'Crash for cash' fraudster who staged 93 accidents in $1.6m insurance scam is jailed
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:09 PM on 21st October 2009
A fraudster who enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle on the proceeds of staged accidents and cost the insurance industry $1.6million was jailed today.
Mohammed Patel, 24, charged $500 a time to stage accidents which enabled fraudsters to claim an average of $17,000 from insurers.
He staged at least 93 crashes, earning himself around $46,000, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
Patel, of Nottingham Drive, Bolton, Greater Manchester, admitted one count of conspiracy to defraud, six counts of dangerous driving and four counts of driving while disqualified.
He was jailed for four-and-a-half years today and banned from driving for three-and-a-half years.
William Baker, prosecuting, said Patel's earnings funded an 'Aladdin's cave' at the home of his unemployed girlfriend Ettorina Hay.
The pair enjoyed luxurious foreign holidays and drove expensive cars, the court heard.
Mr Baker said the scam was only exposed after office workers at a construction company overlooking a major roundabout became suspicious
Describing the set-up, Mr Baker said: 'One vehicle colliding with another at low speed with minor damage and often the same person driving the lead vehicle.
'They told drivers of the rear vehicles they thought they were the victim of fraud."
Mr Baker said: 'Mohammed Patel staged the road traffic accidents. He drove cars on to the roundabout and then stopped them so abruptly the vehicle behind could not avoid a collision.
'He did this because of the widely-held belief that the person who drives into the rear of someone else is in the wrong and they will admit liability.'
Fraudulent claims, submitted by people not present at the scene whom Patel purported to be, were then made.
Claims would include compensation for injuries, such as whiplash, damage to the vehicle, a hire car, and storage of the damaged vehicle.
Mr Baker said Patel staged the accidents between May 2005 and August 2008, and each claim averaged $17,000.
The cost to the motorist of a fraudulent 'cash for crash' claim is an extra $49 a year on their insurance premium, he addedMr Baker said: 'He spent more than $46,000 in cash on two cars, designer clothes, holidays, and paying the domestic bills of his girlfriend.
'There's evidence he received $500 per claim... and was involved in staging at least 92 collisions.'
Patel was arrested days after he was observed staging two accidents in a single day, the court heard.
On July 30 last year he staged an early afternoon collision at Junction 10 on the M65 near Burnley, Lancashire.
At around 5pm he staged another accident, while driving a Golf, at Trafford Park in Manchester, and gave a false name.
Mr Baker said that Patel was laughed at by the other party when he asked for $950 to cover the damage to his vehicle.
Suspicion: An aerial shot of Eden Point roundabout where office workers saw a series of similar crashes in late 2005
Patel was arrested in Bolton on August 7 last year and gave a prepared statement to police. He pleaded guilty to the charges at the earliest opportunity.
Patel paid $46,000 into his girlfriend's bank account, the court heard.
When police searched Hay's Bolton home, they found receipts from stores including Selfridges, Toys R Us and Marks & Spencer.
A $965 receipt for a flat-screen television was discovered at the single mother's home.
A $10,000 second-hand Mercedes C Class Coupe and a $14,000 Lincoln Navigator, which cost a total of $3,700 to insure, were also in her name, the court heard.
The pair enjoyed trips to Turkey, Barcelona and France. Patel paid $1,000 for his girlfriend to visit her brother in South Africa and even contributed towards her grocery bill.
Mr Baker said: 'The two enjoyed a high lifestyle from the proceeds of fraud.'
He said Hay, who is from Malawi and has a son, 'enjoyed a much higher standard of living than she would have experienced living on benefits of $90 per week'.
Her home was newly decorated and 'full of expensive furniture and electrical equipment', Mr Baker said.
Hay admitted one count of converting criminal property and one count of possessing criminal property.
She is due to be sentenced on December 18 and faces a maximum sentence of seven years.
Link to Photo of Patel and accident scenes:
LINK TO VIDEO OF PATEL:
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