Drivers are being warned of a new type of crash for cash scam, dubbed 'clip for cash', which has been spreading across the country.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) warned that, unlike traditional crash for cash scams where fraudsters cause a collision, this involves scammers accusing drivers of clipping their wing mirror, before becoming threatening and demanding cash up front.

IFB and IFED are actively investigating over 40 incidents where innocent people appear to have been targeted. However, due to a lack of public awareness of the issue, potentially hundreds of cases are going unreported. Drivers are being urged to look out for the signs.

Ursula Jallow, Director at IFB, said: “Clip for cash is an increasing threat to drivers. These fraudsters trick innocent motorists into thinking they’ve caused genuine damage and then apply pressure tactics to get victims to hand over cash.

"As there is little awareness of this new fraud type, it means drivers are more susceptible to falling victim. We’re urging everyone to look out for the warning signs of these wing mirror stings and report it to Cheatline and Action Fraud.”

Detective Inspector Philip Corcoran at IFED, said: “Crash for cash scams pose a real safety risk to the public, so it is concerning to see these fraudsters evolve their tactics to target more unsuspecting drivers. Nobody should pressure you into handing over money at the scene of a collision. If you suspect you have fallen victim to this scam, report it to IFB’s Cheatline and to Action Fraud.”

How does it work?

First detected in London in 2021, IFB and IFED have since seen the clip for cash scam spread to other parts of the country, including in the South-West and Wales.

The con nearly always takes place on a residential road. As the victim drives by, the fraudster is parked in their car on the left-hand side and throws an object such as a large rock, at the side of the victim’s car to make an impact sound.

The startled driver is soon flashed by the fraudster’s car to get them to stop, before being accused of clipping their wing mirror (which has already been damaged).

The fraudster demands they hand over cash instantly – which could be as much as £200 – or pressures them into visiting a cashpoint. The fraudster is reluctant to pursue any claim through the insurer. In some instances where the victim has not agreed to handing over money, the culprit has become physically intimidating.

What can I do if I’m targeted?

Regardless of whether a genuine road traffic collision has taken place or not, money should never be handed over at the scene. If accused of damaging a wing mirror, insurance details should be swapped as legally required. If there is an imminent risk of danger, call the police.

If someone thinks they have been targeted, they should tell their insurer and local police force. They should also report their concerns to IFB’s Cheatline and Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service.

Ben Neyland, Head of Claims Counter Fraud at Admiral, said:  “Unfortunately, this insidious scam is becoming more commonplace. The tactics used by the fraudsters are intimidating and it would be frightening to be targeted by them.

“One way to prevent people falling prey to the scam is to raise awareness of it. Which is why it’s important for insurers to support the IFB and IFED in the campaign to spread the word about it. If you suspect you’ve been targeted by fraudsters with this scam, let your insurance provider know and report it to Cheatline.”

Matthew Stevens, Anti-Fraud Director at Hastings Direct, said: “This is yet another example of how unscrupulous fraudsters try to take advantage of innocent people. At Hastings, we are working tirelessly with the Insurance Fraud Bureau, the Police and other insurance companies to help tackle this and all types of insurance fraud. My advice to motorists is to never hand cash over at the side of the road, always report the incident to your insurance provider and to call the police if the other motorist becomes threatening.”

Ben Fletcher, Director of Financial Crime at LV= General Insurance, said: “Fraudsters are constantly evolving their tactics, and this is another example of how they pray on the vulnerable. We’re seeing younger and elderly drivers targeted, as they’re more likely to fall for this awful scam.

“We work with the industry to crack down on any trends we see, and our fraud controls ensure we’re capturing these criminals to help protect innocent motorists and keep insurance costs down. It’s so important victims take pictures of the damage, look for witnesses who can help provide an account of what happened and report insurance fraud confidentially to Cheatline.”