The Star Opinion: Gambling with lives

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Defrauding insurance companies is often seen as a ‘victimless’ crime.’ It’s not like mugging a pensioner, is it? Big companies won’t miss a few quid will they?

But attitudes like that – and you hear it all the time – are the thin edge of the wedge.

And now we’re all paying a price for the ‘I pay my premiums I’m entitled to milk the system a bit’ attitude of some, as premiums, particularly for car insurance, have rocketed in recent years.

But the ‘crash for cash’ scam we report on our front page today has taken things to a new level.

There is no way that anyone could have thought that filling a bus with passengers and then crashing into a car, even slowly, was anything other than reckless in the extreme. So much was beyond their control. Innocent people could so easily get caught up in these sort of ‘accidents’. In a busy city, it just simply beggars belief.

Lives were undoubtedly put at risk by this callous gang of hardened criminals. This was not ‘victimless’ crime, far from it.

Police initially investigated what they believed to be a genuine accident. They are used to dealing with criminals, yet even they struggled to see how people could sink so low as to risk so many lives in such a cynical manner.

Quickly, the plot unravelled and a huge and complex operation was uncovered.

Yesterday the gang members got what they deserved. Jailing the ring leaders and doling out stiff sentences to others involved should send a clear message to others in what has become an industry in some cities.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau is investigating 90 criminal gangs working these sorts of scams across the country. It is big business.

We’re all victims here, including the perpetrators of scams like this – if they do actually have insurance for their cars, their homes or even their pets. Most of us pay our premiums and rarely, if ever, make a claim, but we’re forking out for peace of mind. We’re paying over the odds because of these gangs.

They take us for mugs – and they deserve stiff sentences.