LONDON A Briton who cost the insurance industry some 1.6 million pounds by staging almost 100 car crashes as part of a scam to win fraudulent payouts, was jailed for 4-1/2 years on Wednesday.
Mohammed Patel, 24, charged 500 pounds a time to stage accidents which enabled fraudsters to claim an average of 17,000 pounds from their insurers.
Police said he staged at least 92 crashes between 2005 and 2008, each time persuading the other driver to believe they were at fault.
The plot was uncovered after workers in an office block by the main A34 road in Cheadle, near Manchester, became suspicious about a regular number of crashes taking place at a nearby roundabout.
AXA insurance, one of the firms caught up in the scam, investigated and contacted police. Detectives found that Patel deliberately caused crashes for his clients by braking suddenly so the vehicle behind could not avoid a collision.
The claimants then demanded compensation from the victim's insurance firm for personal injury, legal fees, courtesy cars, and often with the damage to the cars fabricated.
Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court heard that fraudsters were able to claim on average 17,000 pounds from insurance firms for each of the crashes Patel caused, the Press Association reported.
Patel himself raked in around 46,000 pounds for his role, and from his earnings he treated his girlfriend to gifts, two luxury cars and foreign holidays, police said.
"Patel was prepared to put lives in danger to make money," said Sergeant Mark Beales.
"This abuse of the insurance claims system has implications for all law-abiding road users."
Patel, from Bolton, admitted 17 charges including conspiracy to defraud, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified.
Another 24 co-conspirators are also due to be sentenced for their role in the scam.
"The cost of insurance fraud adds on average 44 pounds to every policyholder's insurance premium annually," said John Beadle, chairman of the Insurance Fraud Bureau.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)