Conman stole people’s identities and faked car crashes, court told

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A conman stole the identities of innocent people, took out fake motor insurance policies and then fabricated car crashes.

Naveed Shah used the scam to try and steal hire cars – collectively worth £200,000 – that he booked when reporting the fake accidents.

He was caught after a sting operation was carried out by anti-fraud unit, APU Ltd, when he tried to hire a car from accident management firm, Accident Exchange.

Shah (37) of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to make false insurance claims and steal courtesy cars at Preston Crown Court today.

He will return for sentencing on June 16. Judge H. Lloyd warned him that a custodial sentence is “most likely”.

Shah used the false identity details to make hire car bookings with claims firms. He would then change the delivery location at the last minute, typically asking for cars to be handed over in the North of England, often at medical facilities where he claimed to be working or visiting sick relatives.

He fabricated crashes in the South of England, East Midlands and West Midlands and, having obtained a hire car, would quickly dispose of it before adopting a different identity and targeting another hire company.

In total, over £200k worth of cars disappeared without trace, leaving the companies no way of uncovering the true identity of the fraudster.

After attempting to claim a hire car from Accident Exchange, anti-motor fraud specialist, APU Ltd, flagged the claim as suspicious and, with the assistance of leading international law firm Hill Dickinson Solicitors and its Netfoil database, was able to warn other insurers and hire companies of their concerns.

APU Ltd and its team of ex-Police and fraud intelligence officers launched a privately funded investigation including two staged ‘sting’ operations in which Shah was expecting delivery of a hire car but was greeted instead by APU investigators.

Lancashire Police officers were fully briefed and arrested a very surprised Shah on both occasions, with APU then handing over a portfolio of compelling evidence to help them uncover the whole extent of Shah’s offending.

On one occasion, APU Ltd operatives even followed Shah back into a hospital at which he claimed to be working and followed him for 45 minutes as he walked around the facility’s corridors.

APU’s Head of Investigative Services, Neil Thomas, said: “Shah had obviously figured out what he thought was a fool-proof way to steal cars. He’d use a false identity and payment cards to take out motor insurance policies on cars he never owned, and then report fictitious crashes.

“This is different to other scams where fraudsters seek personal injury payments, instead Shah was intent on stealing the hire cars and has gone to great lengths to achieve this. In fact if it hadn’t been for way the various parties worked together with Lancashire police, I’m not sure his identity would ever have been uncovered.

“The fact that he has now pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges shows he is part of an organised team and not just a minor player who takes delivery of the cars.

“It was a cowardly and pre-meditated scam that affected the individuals whose identities he stole, as well as defrauding the claims companies of money, so I’m pleased that APU has played a key part in bringing him to justice.”

Peter Oakes, head of fraud at Hill Dickinson LLP, said: “This is another demonstrable success as a result of collaboration between APU and Hill Dickinson, driven by Netfoil intelligence and a robust, joined up approach to fraud prevention.”