Fraud accused ‘staged spectacular crash for cash’ scam

Fraudsters staged a “spectacular stunt” involving a public service bus and a car in a “cash for crash” scam, a court heard.

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They filled the single-decker with their own passengers and the driver deliberately crashed the bus at slow speed into a Vauxhall Safira.

After the crash 26 fraudulent claims were made by “fake” passengers on the bus for similar whiplash-type injuries, Sheffield Crown Court was told.

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None of a handful of genuine passengers submitted claims.

The bus company involved Sheffield Mainline had to set aside £250,000 to pay compensation claims.

Police and ambulance staff turned up but only one man appeared to be injured and the Vauxhall was nowhere to be seen.

Seven defendants, six of them Asians, have gone on trial accused of conspiracy to defraud insurance companies which they all deny.

The large fraud centred on an accident claims company called City Claims 4 U based at Pitsmoor Road, Sheffield and run by Mohammed Gulzar and Shoaib Nawaz.

“It was a professional and organised conspiracy by deliberately making false claims over road traffic accidents which never occurred or were staged,” said Katherine Robinson, prosecuting.

The jury was told that Adam Herbert, 25, the bus driver has already admitted conspiracy to defraud as has the car driver.

The bus crash was “staged” according to the prosecution on June 16, 2011 at Scott Road, Pitsmoor, Sheffield as City Claims 4 U were “becoming both confident and very, very greedy”.

Said Miss Robinson: “This was an audacious plan to crash a bus being driven by Adam Herbert into a car driven by one of the defendants. The plan was to load the bus with as many dishonest passengers as possible then submit a raft of bogus claims for personal injury.

“Adam Herbert deliberately drove into the rear of a Vauxhall Safira at slow speed,” she said. “Injuries were reported by people on the bus.”

She said passengers described a “very minor bump” at slow speed or a “gentle collision” with some of the passengers losing their footing.

False details of the car driver were given to the police and a member of staff at the claims company was even on board and submitted his own personal claim.

One passenger later told police the whole accident was staged and she had been invited to make her own personal injury claim.

“A total of 26 people made very similar claims for whiplash-type injuries arising out of this collision and the bus company put aside £250,000 for the cost of litigation,” said Miss Robinson.

The bus company itself made inquiries and found the collision was staged. “It was a plan to maximise the dishonest income from this rather spectacular stunt,” said Miss Robinson.

PC Sam Clifford told the jury he arrived to find a large crowd on the pavement with ambulance crews attending to people who were claiming injuries.

“When I arrived there was no car but damage to the windscreen and the front of the bus,” he said. “Some passengers were sat on the bus and others were at the side. There was only one man making lots of noises.

“He was quite agitated and animated and shouting and swearing. He had to be carried onto a chair. He began shouting when I started taking pictures,” he said.

The court heard the fraudsters staged several crashes between October 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011.

False claims were boosted by hiring out replacement vehicles from Rent a Car 4 U which was linked to the other company.

Miss Robinson said Gulzar was the principal organiser of arranged collisions to generate false claims and Nawaz was a central figure in the operation with Liam Howden assisting.

“It was a wholly dishonest enterprise extending to dozens of bogus road traffic collisions,” she said.

The fake claims were made from alleged crashes in Halifax, Sheffield and Rotherham. One supposed passenger at an accident in Sheffield was found out to be in Oxford at the time.

In another bogus claim,identity documents were sent to the claims company three hours before the alleged accident took place.

Gulzar, 30, of Osgathorpe Road, Sheffield, Nawaz, 25, of Marshall Road, Sheffield, Liam Howden, 25, of Brinsworth Hall Avenue, Rotherham, Nisar Hussain, 28, of Morgan Road, Sheffield, Javed Khan, 46, of Nansen Road, Birmingham, Sami Selam, 37, of Chester Road, Flint, North Wales and Kiran Shaheen, 21, of Kensington Road,Bradford all deny conspiracy to defraud.

Eight other defendants have admitted the same charge and will be sentenced later.

The trial continues.