Garage owners and dealers convicted of fraud

Police in Cumbria have uncovered a ‘cash for crash’ gang of 36 people, including garage owners and car dealers, responsible for fraudulent claims worth £500,000.

The News & Star has reported that Mark McCracken’s scam involved repeated claims for non-existent accidents. He also ramped up the value of the vehicles involved by wiping thousands of miles off their clocks.

The scam continued for two years, with McCracken using multiple identities to claim on 27 bogus crashes. Along with the claims for the invented crashes were ones for non-existent injuries, fabricated car-hire bills and written-off cars.

The scam was exposed after McCracken became increasingly brazen, taking out insurance policies on the same day he staged crashes. Police then spent months investigating before discovering a key piece of evidence, a secret stash of documents that included bogus driving licences, bank books in false names and memory aids on post-it notes.

Prosecutor Tim Evans said, ‘The names and dates of birth McCracken gives for the claims in their names have been checked with the Passport Office, the Register Office, DVLA, HM Revenues and Customs and the Department for Works and Pensions and various councils. None of those bodies hold any information on those names. They do not exist – save as fraud devices employed by McCracken.’

Another key strand of the investigation was that most of the accident were staged or claimed to be at the same location – on the B5302 at Blencogo – while the emergency services were not called on any occasion despite claims that drivers and passengers suffered whiplash and similar injuries.

An expert also examined the cars and concluded that the damage found did not tally with the crash that was reported to the insurance company.

McCracken and the 35 other defendants involved – including car dealers and garage owners Peter Farish of Castleway Motors, Duncan Pape of Tekno Painting, Stuart Bell, owner of S&A Bell, and Richard Miller of R Miller Bodyworks – will be sentenced next month.