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Don’t get caught out by the latest crash for cash scam in the UK

19th May, 2023

Crash for cash scams are sadly nothing new here in the UK. For a very long time now they’ve been the scourge of British motorists, and in particularly unfortunate incidents they’ve even been a major factor in causing drivers to decide – I need to scrap my car.

As things stand, these types of scams are estimated to cost the British economy something like £300 million every year, and there’s no sign that they’re going away any time soon. Quite the contrary, scammers have come up with some worrying new tactics. The latest twist on this common scam is called ‘clip for cash’. It’s a deceptively chippy moniker for quite a sinister scheme, in which scammers will pressure innocent drivers (sometimes by physically intimidating them) to pay cash sums for completely fabricated damage.

Of course, when it comes to scams like this one, knowing all the right stuff in advance can go a long way to helping you avoid becoming a victim – so here’s everything you need to know.

How do Clip for Cash scams work?

According to warnings issued by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and the City of London Police, the majority of these incidents happen on residential roads. It’s easy to see why – they can be especially tight spaces to navigate, making claims of damage seem all the more credible, and as an added bonus for the scammers there are often fewer bystanders who might serve as unhelpful witnesses against their version of events.

So, it goes like this. The fraudster will wait in a parked car on this residential road, waiting for a potential victim to pass them. (Depressingly, they seem to be most frequently targeting particularly young or elderly drivers.) Once someone drives past them, they will throw a heavy object like a rock at their car, which makes a loud sound that they can claim has been produced by a collision.

They’ll then make the other driver stop – typically by flashing their lights – and accuse them of clipping a wingmirror on the scammer’s car (which will already have been damaged). They’ll then demand cash on the spot, which could be as much as £200. If the other driver doesn’t have any money on them, they may attempt to escort their victim to a cash machine. And if that doesn’t work, they may resort to physical intimidation.

car crash call

How widespread is the problem?

Right now, it’s difficult to say. Authorities are reasonably certain of at least 40 cases, but they think the true number could be much higher, as drivers may not always necessarily realise that they’re being scammed. A number of cases have happened within the City of London, but there have been reports of suspected similar incidents spreading across the country, some as far north as Lancashire.

A significant number of them seem to be happening in built-up urban areas of major cities, as the residential streets in these places tend to be particularly narrow, and therefore hard to navigate – again, giving the scammers more credibility.

What should I do if I think I’m being targeted?

If you think you might be in a Clip for Cash situation, here’s what you need to do:

• Don’t hand over money. Don’t admit fault, and don’t even make an apology
• Swap insurance details as is legally required
• Stay calm (which we appreciate is much easier said than done)
• If you think that your physical safety may be at risk, get into your car and call the police

So, to cover those in a little more detail…

giving money after car cash

Do not hand over money (and do not admit fault)

In this type of situation, there are a couple of warning signs to look out for, and the first and most important is that you should never hand over cash at the scene of an accident. If someone is pressuring you to do so, they’re exhibiting one of the classic hallmarks of an experienced scammer. In fact, most official advice says that you should always try and avoid admitting fault at the scene of an accident, even to the point of avoiding making an apology to the other party.

Avoiding an apology might seem strange – especially since here in Britain, we’re notoriously prone to apologising even in the most trivial of situations – but in any subsequent proceedings, anything you say can be used against you. And if you’ve made an apology, in some cases the other party might be able to argue it as a verbal admission of guilt.

Swap insurance details

It’s understandable to want to avoid dealing with the issue via your insurer – it’s always a common temptation, especially since it can cause your premiums to go up even if you weren’t at fault in an accident. However, lots of people often forget that drivers are actually legally obliged to report an accident to their insurers within 24 hours, so that the appropriate investigations can take place. In other words, it’s partially to avoid situations like this, where one party directly benefits themselves to the detriment of another.

That’s exactly why it’s something that scammers definitely won’t want to happen – so be on your guard if the other party seems especially keen to deal with the issue outside the proper legal channels. They might just be another driver trying to save themselves some cash (illegally, we might add) or they might be a scammer cynically trying to take advantage of you. Either way, don’t let them pressure you into it. It could end up costing you a lot more than higher premiums.

insurance swap

Stay calm

As we touched on above, we know this is easier said than done. But it’s one of the best defence you have against scams, car-based ones or otherwise. Countless scams rely on creating a sense of urgency and panic, so that it’s easier to rush you into decisions that you might otherwise think twice about making – such as admitting fault, to give an easy example.

Remember, you don’t have a set time limit to deal with the issue, beyond the 24-hour period you have to notify your insurer. So if the other party is making any attempts to rush you into dealing with it before you’ve had time to think, that again is a classic hallmark of an experienced scammer. Make sure to keep your head, and don’t be afraid to step away for a moment while you collect yourself. And above all…

Keep yourself safe

One of the most worrying aspects of Clip of Cash scams concerns the potential for the scammer in question to become physically intimidating. In that case, your physical safety always becomes the overriding priority. The safest place to be is probably inside your car, so if you think you may be in danger, get inside and call the police from there.

If you’re particularly fearful for your safety, you may choose to drive away. However, we should say that this will be entirely at your own discretion, and may not be necessarily advisable. If possible, it’s best to get advice from the police themselves about what to do in your specific circumstances. If that’s not possible, ideally you should only drive away as a last resort, as it’s the kind of action that may harm your case later.

Ultimately though, if it comes down to a choice between legal complications, financial costs, or your physical safety, that last one should always come out on top every time. Trust your instincts in the moment – as long as you don’t panic, you can worry about justifying those decisions once you’re out of the immediate danger.

Of course, we should say that we’re not all legal experts here at Scrap Car Network, so if you get conflicting advice from an official source who knows more about your situation, then always defer to them!

As for us, we’ll stick to doing what we do best: getting you maximum cash for your scrap car. Don’t just take our word for it – get an instant online quote today! It’s free, and there’s zero obligation until you decide you’re ready to proceed. Just enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and within seconds you’ll be looking at your very own instant online quote. Ready to find out how much your car is worth?

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