60 in "Crash for cash" scam

A total of 60 people have been convicted or pleaded guilty to being involved in one of the country's largest "cash for crash" scams.

Full Report: 60 in "crash for cash" scam

It was a fraud so large that it cost local people up to a hundred pounds extra on their car insurance bills.

Tonight we told you about the organised crime family who made millions of pounds from scamming the insurance industry.

In all, sixty people either pleaded or were found guilty, in what the police have described as "organised crime on a massive scale".

Watch the full report from our correspondent Ben Chapman below.

"Crash for cash" scam: The Wright family

Alan Wright - described by a source as the head of the family - has been sentenced to four years in prison. He was found to have faked four crashes over a period of ten months.

Alan Wright - head of family Credit: Durham Police

Paul Jonathan Wright, who ran PJ Autos, a recovery, storage and vehicle hire business, has yet to be sentenced for his part in the "crash for cash" scam.

He is thought to be involved by making false claims for storing damaged cars and hiring out replacement vehicles at up to £200 a day.

Paul Jonathon Wright Credit: Durham Police

Joseph Anthony Wright will serve 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy.

Joseph Anthony Wright Credit: Durham Police

Jonathan Wright was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Jonathan Wright Credit: Durham Police

Robert Wright has been convicted and will serve nine months in prison.

Robert Wright Credit: Durham Police
Joseph Wright Credit: Durham Police

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Crash for cash scam - "not just a local issue"

Police have said that they do not believe that the "crash for cash" scam that took place in the North East, and for which 60 people have been convicted, is not just a local issue.

"We didn't just come across this activity. It was as a result of our communities telling us that organised crime groups were making their lives difficult.

"We acted on their information and used intelligence-led policing to take appropriate action as part of a larger operation against organised crime.

"This fraud is affecting every honest law-abiding car insurance holder.

"It's not just a local issue. We believe this to be a nationwide issue which needs to be tackled robustly."

– Chief Superintendent Rob Coulson

They also spoke about the rise in insurance prices, particularly in the Derwentside area where the main players behind the scam lived, and about the effect that it had had upon the local community.

"In Derwentside car insurance premiums have increased well in excess of the national average, with motorists typically paying an extra £100 a year.

"This is an area with limited employment opportunities where many people have to travel out of the area to find work.

"They need their cars, yet they are hit with higher than average car insurance premiums. This is how criminal activity has a real impact on the well-being of a community."

– Chief Superintendent Rob Coulson

"Crash for cash" scam: The main players

Trials involving 70 defendants began last year at Newcastle Crown Court, with 60 people convicted or pleading guilty to being involved - seven of whom were from the Wright family.

Family members included 40-year-old Paul Jonathon Wright who ran PJ Autos, a recovery, storage and vehicle hire business.

He is yet to be sentenced for his part in the scam which involved making false claims for storing damaged cars and hiring out replacement vehicles at up to £200 a day.

Also involved was his brother Alan who was jailed for four years after a trial last year.

Alan Wright, described as the head of the family, was found to have had four fake crashes in 10 months.

Another family member bought an Audi with 112,000 miles on the clock, staged an accident, and when he made a claim it was found that its mileage had dropped to 37,000, making it much more valuable.

60 convicted over North East "cash for crash" scam

A total of 60 people have been convicted or pleaded guilty to being involved in one of the UK's largest "cash for crash" scams in the North East.

The fraud was so bad that people living in Derwentside, where the main players behind the scam were based, paid up to £100 extra for car insurance.

Police uncovered the scale of the fraud while investigating the activities of members of the Wright family, from Burnhope, who came to national prominence in 2009 when two local streets they had named after themselves were changed by officers in a bid to bolster public confidence.

Concerns over local organised crime led to a major investigation which looked at 1800 accidents handled by two particular firms and swiftly identified 261 which looked suspicious.

Investigators suspected some were entirely fictitious, some staged and some vastly exaggerated.

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