‘Crash for cash’ fraudsters have been blasted for wasting emergency services’ time after being spared jail.
Shabina Kassim, 35, and Nasir Ghaffar, 34, admitted they deliberately caused a crash that saw police, firefighters and paramedics called to their aid.
Their con was foiled after their victim and a witness saw Kassim move into the driver’s seat before claiming she might be pregnant and was suffering back pain.
Her claims saw paramedics called over fears she had fractured her spine, and firefighters in order to cut her out of the car.
Emergency services were in attendance in Hillingdon, west London, for three hours.
The pair, who then tried to claim £15,554 in personal injury claims, repair and legal costs, have been sentenced at Inner London Crown Court after a joint investigation by City of London Police and insurers LV=.
Detective Constable Agnew, who led the police investigation, said: “Kassim and Ghaffar went to great lengths to carry out their crash for cash plan and try and claim as much money as they could.
“On top of their deplorable actions to try and deceive the insurers, which put the safety of the victim at risk, they also wasted the precious time of three emergency services, potentially taking them away from genuine emergencies.”
Clare Lunn, LV= GI Fraud Director, said: “It’s bad enough that these fraudsters endangered the lives of other road users for financial gain, but to waste the valuable time of our emergency services in the process is truly shocking.
“The Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance service were at the scene for over three hours, when they could have been out serving the public.”
Kassim, of West Hampstead, north west London, and Ghaffar, of Penge, south east London, were both sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered to £100 each in court costs.
Ghaffar was also ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid work.
The pair were investigated after their victim told LV= that the crash was caused by them.
A police spokesman said: “He said that he was at a set of traffic lights and as they turned green and he started moving forward, a car suddenly changed lanes in front of him and performed an emergency stop, causing him to crash into it.
“He identified three people in the car, Ghaffar and Kassim who were passengers, and a man who was the driver.
“After the collision, the road in Cranford, London was closed for approximately three hours as emergency services attended the scene.
“When the Metropolitan Police arrived, Kassim told them that she thought she was pregnant and had suffered serious injuries to her back.
“The London Ambulance service were then called and as there may have been an injury to Kassim’s spine, the London Fire Brigade also attended to cut off the roof of the car and help her out.
“She was taken to hospital and a doctor confirmed that Kassim wasn’t pregnant as she’d claimed.”
A witness also saw Kassim move to the driver’s seat. Police said this was because she was the only one out of the pair to have a driving licence which she needed to put in their fraudulent claims through the insurers of her car.
The third man, who the victim and the witness saw driving the car, left the area soon after the collision.
Kassim and Ghaffar claimed that he was their friend and was getting a lift to work, but neither knew his surname or had any contact details for him when interviewed by IFED.
A police spokesman said: “A couple of weeks after the collision, LV= received personal injury claims from Kassim and Ghaffar, with both stating that Kassim was the driver and that they were they only people in the car.
“On top of this, the insurers for Kassim, who were unaware of the fraud at the time, contacted LV= and requested reimbursement for the costs linked to the car, such as vehicle damage and car hire costs.
“Collectively, the personal injury claims, repair costs and legal costs amounted to £15,554. However, the money for the personal injury claims and legal costs were never paid to Kassim and Ghaffar. ”
By Berny Torre