A CAR DEALER from Doncaster caused a road crash and then deliberately drove his Porsche sports car into a tunnel wall to make the damage worse in a £100,000 ‘crash for cash’ scam.
Mark Smith, of Conisbrough, made legal history yesterday when he became the first motorist convicted by a crack police unit set up to tackle insurance fraud.
The 42-year-old admitted two counts of fraud after colliding with a Doncaster Council vehicle in Trafford Way.
He then claimed about £100,000 from insurers for damage to his car, along with whiplash injuries.
Smith, of Moat House Way, had originally denied staging the crash in January 2009.
He stated it was caused by his bad driving, admitting only to submitting two bogus insurance claims.
The case came to court after Zurich, the council’s insurer, referred suspicions about one of Smith’s claims to City of London Police’s insurance fraud enforcement department, triggering a criminal investigation.
CCTV footage from the tunnel section under the Frenchgate Centre showed Smith make an emergency stop in his Porsche convertible causing the van, driven by Susan Shaw, to plough into the back of it.
The Porsche was then seen moving onto the kerb and shortly after, heading out of the tunnel with little damage. He was then seen to deliberately drive into the tunnel wall to make the damage worse.
After the collision, Smith submitted claims to his insurer and Zurich.
Smith’s insurer paid out just over £25,000 after writing off the Porsche and a further £600 direct to him.
However, Zurich was not convinced by Smith’s claim for car hire expenses of more than £22,000 and whiplash injuries in excess of £15,000, so took him to a civil court in May 2011 where his claim was thrown out.
Zurich then referred the case to the IFED.
Detective Constable Kate Sibley, who led IFED’s investigation, said: “Smith must have thought a fancy car and clever plan would be the easy route to securing tens of thousands of pounds from insurers.
“The fact he was putting lives at risk by causing a crash, on a busy road, did not put the brakes on his fraud. He wanted this money and was prepared to go the distance to get it.
“But what Smith did not count on was IFED and the insurance industry working together to expose criminals who think insurance fraud is an easy way to boost their bank balance.”
Peter Davies, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “I welcome the result of this case. The costs associated with fraudulent claims diverts public money away from frontline services and we are therefore committed to the detection and prevention of fraud.
“Doncaster Council and its insurers defend claims where possible and aim to detect and prevent fraudulent claims. This case shows that where fraud is detected we work with the police to ensure the appropriate action is taken.
“The offender was also putting the lives of our staff and other road users at risk which is totally unacceptable.”
Scott Clayton, Zurich claims fraud and investigations manager, said: “We are pleased Smith has admitted his crime and been prosecuted. Zurich takes a zero tolerance approach towards fraud in general, especially when it also involves dangerous driving which puts innocent people in danger.
“Overall, this prosecution has achieved £100,000 savings in payments to Smith and associated costs, which would have been paid by the local authority.
“We are very pleased with the results.”
At The Old Bailey in London yesterday, Smith was given a six-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered to complete 140 hours of unpaid community work.