Insurance fraud costs companies millions of pounds each year - and some scams are catching out innocent members of the public.
This week, the City of London Police warned of the dangers of 'ghost broking' - buying fake car insurance from fraudsters as a means of securing ultra-cheap cover. This type of fraud has caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in losses in the past three years.
So, could you spot a car insurance crime in the making?
Here, we outline what to look out for, how to avoid becoming a victim of insurance fraud and what to do if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself involved.
Ghost brokers, also known as 'illegal intermediaries', sell fraudulent insurance policies, most commonly car insurance.
The City of London's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) has recently warned that scams like this are on the rise.
Between November 2014 and October 2017, Action Fraud received more than 850 reports linked to ghost broking, with a total reported loss of £631,000 - an average of £769 per victim.
Typically, salesmen offer cheap deals, often targeting young people who are likely to pay the most for their insurance. The victim hands over the money, and receives seemingly genuinely insurance documents, leading them to believe their vehicle is insured.
But usually, the fraudsters have either:
Many people don't find out that their policy is fraudulent until they are stopped by the police, or when they try to make an insurance claim.
The penalties can be severe. Driving under a fraudulent policy may result in:
The IFED has warned that many ghost brokers are active on social media, running fake advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat money-saving forums, university notice boards and marketplace websites.
There have also been instances of fake advertisements in pubs, clubs and bars, in newsagents and motor repair shops.
You should be wary of brokers who provide mobile numbers or Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or Outlook email accounts as their primary form of contact, as this could indicate that they are not working for a legitimate company.
Scammers have also been reported to use apps like Whatsapp to communicate, as this makes them more difficult to trace.
You should also trust your instincts if a deal seems too-good-to-be true - such as a quote for car insurance for just £100 a year.
Insurance brokers should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
You can also check if your policy is listed on the Motor Insurers' Bureau's . This records the policy details of all vehicles insured in the UK - if your vehicle is not listed, your policy is not legitimate.
If this is the case, you should contact your insurer to check whether your personal details match the information on their records.
'Cash for crash' describes fraudsters - often acting as a group- engineering a situation where an innocent motorist is forced into having a collision.
When a car crashes into another from behind, the driver at the back is usually found at fault, due to rule 126 of the Highway Code stating that you should 'leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front'.
As such, criminals will put you in a situation where you're forced to crash - for instance, by stopping suddenly or distracting your attention.
The aim is to claim compensation payments such as injury damage, loss of earnings, hire vehicles, recovery and storage, as well as claims for bogus passengers. The states that cash for crash scams cost insurers around £340m a year.
The map below shows the top 30 UK district postcodes where incidences of cash for crash fraud is most prevalent, according to the IFB.
If you are targeted, and found to be 'at fault', you may have to pay the excess, lose your no-claims discount, and see your premiums soar.
Commercial vehicles are targeted most often, as the scammers believe companies will be less inclined to refute insurance claims than individuals.
Other motorists sought out by criminals include those who seem unlikely to cause a fuss or who might be expected to have comprehensive insurance - including older people or mothers with children in the car.
'Fronting' is a term used to describe someone falsely claiming to be the main driver on a car insurance policy.
Rather than fraudulent activity carried out by gangs, this is a practice many individuals carry out on behalf of their children, without realising how severe the implications could be.
Most commonly, a higher risk driver - such as a younger person who has only recently passed their driving test - is added as a named driver to a car insurance policy, when they are actually the main driver or owner of the vehicle.
If a driver is found to be fronting after being involved in a car accident or making a car insurance claim, they may have all or part of the insurance claim refused. In addition, their policy could be cancelled and they could face prosecution for fraud, which can lead to a criminal record.
What's more, they could find it difficult to get insurance again in future.
There are several legal ways to cut the cost of your car insurance - for instance, rather than fronting, naming an older, dependable person as an additional driver can bring down the premium.
If you think you've been the victim of any type of fraud, contact the police. Take photographs, make sketches, and gather documentation or any other details that might be useful to an investigation.
After a collision, you should try to take the full details of the other driver, and if you think they caused the crash on purpose, explain to your insurer that you think the accident was caused deliberately and why.