Fraud tourists are flying into Ireland to make bogus car insurance claims as payouts for soft tissue injuries or whiplash are much higher here than in other countries.
Organised crime gangs are also engaging in systemic insurance fraud as a way of funding their empires.
A fraud ring involving two families in Munster earned over €1m in the last decade, having claimed damages in 30 accidents, according to RTÉ.
Fraud databases do not operate here due to strict data protection laws which state personal information cannot be shared — even if there is evidence of suspect behaviour.
Video footage was shown on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night of fraudsters staging motor crashes. One clip showed a car and van in a collision. Afterwards, two men got into the crashed car before emergency services were called.
The footage also showed the driver of the van that was rear-ended by a car, instruct the man who crashed into him, to “move back and do it one more time”.
All but one of the men have been charged and convicted of offences.
In the programme, former Garda drug trafficking and organised crime officer, Rob Smyth, said these incidents are funding criminal networks.
“I am quite satisfied that criminals are using insurance fraud as a way of funding their lifestyle, unfortunately when police officers are stopping these people with cash, most of them have had an insurance claim in the past and it justifies having possession of that €10,000 cash or that €20,000 of cash, but the fact of the matter is, it is covering up their criminal activities.”
It was also revealed that high damages payments for whiplash and soft tissues injuries has led to people flying into the country, hiring cars, and crashing them deliberately so they can make an insurance claim.
Car rental Company Hertz gave examples of how cars were crashed in suspicious circumstances within 24 hours of being hired. It also said one fifth of its insurance reserve is set aside for suspected fraudulent claims.
“We have seen accidents staged within as little as 30 minutes from the time of the rental, in some instances with rentals as short as 24 hours. But, within that period a road traffic accident is taking place resulting in multiple injuries, but when examined at a closer level the circumstances of the accident, the circumstances of the rental and the testimony of our renter appears highly incredible,” said Michael Brennan of Hertz.
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