THE masterminds behind a series of “cash for crash” scams including arranging for a 12-tonne bus with up to 40 passengers on board to collide with a car were today jailed for eight years by a judge.
Mohammed Omar Gulzar and Shoaib Nawaz were sentenced to four-and-a-half years and three-and-a-half years respectively at Sheffield Crown Court for organising the fraud through a claims management firm.
Among the fraudulent claims arranged by the pair was the crashing of a First single decker bus, driven by Adam Herbert, who was in on the plot, into a car in Sheffield in June 2011.
The bus normally carried six to eight passengers, but on the day 30 to 40 were aboard as the bus gently ran into a nearby Vauxhall Zafira.
Gulzar and Nawaz’s accomplices were seen handing out claim forms to passengers before the bus even crashed, and despite the low impact one threw himself onto the front window after the collision.
A total of 26 passengers later made almost identical claims for whiplash through City Claims 4 U, a company run by Gulzar since 2010.
The suspicious crash prompted a police investigation which led to the discovery of a number of other fraudulent claims targeting insurance companies, many involving staged collisions or those that never took place.
The pair appeared at Sheffield Crown Court today along with nine other defendants involved in individual frauds arranged by City Claims 4 U over the course of 2011.
Police say Gulzar, 31, from Osgathorpe Road, Sheffield, and Nawaz, 25, from Earl Marshall Road, Sheffield, organised the fraudulent claims and that many of the other defendants played different parts in other scams without being aware of earlier claims made using the company.
Bus driver Adam Herbert, 26, of Ecclesfield Road, Sheffield, was jailed for 20 months, while Sami Selam, of Flint, North Wales, was sentenced to three months in jail and Javed Khan, 47, of Nansen Road, Birmingham, was given a four month sentence. Selam and Khan were jailed for their involvement in two separate fraudulent claims.
The remaining defendants, who were also involved in separate individual claims, were given suspended custodial sentences and ordered to carry out community service, apart from Dusan Pacan, 27, from Cammell Road, Sheffield, who will be sentenced at a later date.
Sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court today, Judge Graham Robinson said the bus crash was “easily the most extreme example of a series of incidents orchestrated by Gulzar and Nawaz”.
He said: “The pure financial cost of compensation payments is not the true cost. Police time and ambulance time was wasted. Ambulances were deployed for nothing. Were genuine patients kept waiting as a result? We will never know.”
He added: “In order to drum up business Mohammed Omar Gulzar and Shoaib Nawaz staged real accidents such as the bus crash or faked accidents, either by deliberately crashing cars to make it look like they had been damaged or perhaps simply inventing accidents.”
He said between £40,000 and £45,000 was paid out by insurance firms as a result of the crashes, though as much as £456,000 had been set aside to pay for possible claims.”
He told Nawaz: “It is clear you must have been intimately involved with arrangements of these staged accidents. It is just too much for one individual to arrange.”
Gulzar and Nawaz were both convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud at an earlier trial. Selam and Khan were both convicted of fraud at the same trial.
Those who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing were bus driver Herbert, Saeeda Ali Bi, 40, of Coleridge Gardens, Sheffield; Safaida Bi, 30, of Ings Way, Bradford; Mohammed Abbas Jaffar, 26, of Dintree Croft, Coventry; Saif Allah Kara Glenn, 25, of Middlemarch Road, Coventry; Osman Bakri, 26, of Rockingham Street, Sheffield, and Pacan.