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Ocado, award-winning online supermarket and retail distributor, has teamed up with Hill Dickinson to take a stand against ‘crash-for-cash’ scams following an incident with one of its delivery vans and the subsequent prosecution of three fraudsters.

The staged road traffic accident (RTA), which happened on 17th September 2009 in London, saw the perpetrators ‘slam on the brakes’ directly in front of an Ocado delivery van, forcing it to crash into the back of the gang’s Vauxhall Astra.

Initial investigations into the RTA led the driver, Mr Fatah, and his two passengers Mr Karim and Mr Saied, to blame a car in front of them for their sudden braking and then to blame a pedestrian who was about to step off the pavement. All parties entered into personal injury claims against the retail distributor. However, a statement from the Ocado driver and video footage taken from the delivery van, proved their story to be false.

Ocado takes a robust approach against fraud and immediately sought the advice of Hill Dickinson who investigated the matter further and secured the evidence required to take the case to the Metropolitan Police. All three men were subsequently charged with offences under the Fraud Act and appeared in Croydon County Court for a four day trial.  They were found guilty and sentenced to three months in prison.

John Norfolk, Head of Risk Management at Ocado, said: “Crash-for-cash claims are becoming more widespread but as a business we will not tolerate being targeted in this way. Our vans are fitted with black box technology for safety reasons and in this case the footage was extremely valuable as it proved our driver was an innocent party in the RTA. Working in partnership with Hill Dickinson and the Metropolitan Police we have been able to achieve a positive outcome.”

Ian Emery, Associate in Hill Dickinson’s Insurance Business Group, said: “Unfortunately we are seeing an increasing number of individuals prepared to provoke a road traffic accident to make a personal injury claim and large retail distribution fleets are particularly at risk. 99 per cent of the time, if you drive into the back of someone else, it’s going to be seen as your fault and these fraudsters depend on it. By picking fleet vehicles it is assumed that they will be guaranteed to pay the claim, but as it becomes more frequent corporate organisations are becoming more vigilant, investing in technology and are prepared to robustly defend these claims.

“My advice to drivers who think they may have been a victim of ‘crash-for-cash’ fraud is to tell your fleet manager and insurer immediately. Also, get as many details as possible on the car, driver, passengers and the damage, but don’t put yourself at risk.”