LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A Briton who cost the insurance industry some 1.6 million pounds ($2.6 million) by deliberately causing almost 100 car crashes as part of a scam to win fraudulent payouts was jailed for 4-1/2 years on Wednesday.
Mohammed Patel, 24, charged 500 pounds a time to stage accidents which enabled fraudsters to claim an average of 17,000 pounds from their insurers.
Police said he caused at least 92 crashes between 2005 and 2008, each time persuading the other driver to believe they were at fault.
The plot was uncovered after workers in an office block by a main road in Cheadle, near Manchester in northern England, became suspicious about the large number of crashes taking place at a nearby roundabout.
AXA insurance, one of the firms caught up in the scam, investigated and contacted police. Detectives found that Patel caused crashes for his clients by braking suddenly so the vehicle behind could not avoid a collision.
The claimants then demanded compensation from the victim's insurance firm for personal injury, legal fees, courtesy cars, and often with the damage to the cars fabricated.
Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court heard that fraudsters were able to claim on average 17,000 pounds from insurance firms for each of the crashes Patel caused, the Press Association reported.
Patel himself raked in around 46,000 pounds for his role, and from his earnings he treated his girlfriend to gifts, two luxury cars and foreign holidays, police said.
Patel, from Bolton, admitted 17 charges including conspiracy to defraud, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified.
Another 24 co-conspirators are also due to be sentenced for their role in the scam.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison