GANGS of fraudsters are staging car crashes in Huddersfield to con insurance companies out of thousands of pounds.
The boss of an accident investigation company in the town says the problem has worsened considerably over the last six months.
And now he has spoken out in a bid to warn unwary motorists that the gangs are out and about.
Manny Singh, 29, of Crosland Hill, runs Crosland Moor company Platinum Accident Solutions.
"We used to have three or four cases like this to investigate a year, but over the last six months we've dealt with nine."
Mr Singh said: "It has been a big problem in Bradford and now seems to be spreading here."
He said some fraudsters buy two cheap cars, insure them and then crash them into one another months later - sometimes in a yard or on wasteland.
They then claim the crash happened at a specific road junction.
Mr Singh said: "Sometimes we can prove by the accident damage and the point of impact that the accident never happened where they said it did."
He said one accident was on the M62 near Scammonden, where a car braked sharply and was hit from behind by another motorist.
A third car stopped and `witnesses' in that car backed up what the first driver said that he'd had to brake sharply to avoid another car.
But the motorist in the middle said she had never seen this `other' car - yet her insurance company was facing a big claim.
Other `accidents' on Huddersfield roads involve drivers using their headlights to flash another car out of a junction - but then carrying on and hitting the vehicle as it pulls out.
Mr Singh said: "It can be very difficult to prove the headlights were flashed."
There are probably other cases of these kinds of crashes happening in Huddersfield, but the insurance companies are not calling in independent accident investigators.
Police only attend accidents where someone is hurt and many of the bogus claims are from people who claim whiplash and back sprain injuries came on days after the supposed crash.
The typical claim is around £1,800 for whiplash.
Mr Singh said: "With four or five people in a car claiming, these claims can quickly build up.
"Then they claim for the cost of a replacement car and loss of earnings too.
"Claims from a single collision can quickly reach £20,000 or £30,000.
"It is a very profitable source of income for the criminals and we want to make innocent motorists aware of what is happening."
Pc Adrian Whitehead, of Huddersfield traffic police, said: "Staging accidents is a criminal offence and we will investigate where appropriate.
"Clearly they could potentially have horrendous consequences and end up with someone being badly hurt or even killed."
Lucy Butler, spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers, said: "Organised insurance fraud costs UK insurance companies hundreds of millions of pounds each year and these kinds of staged car accidents are a significant contribution to that figure.
"Insurers are working to bring prosecutions against gangs of organised fraudsters and we will shortly be launching an Insurance Fraud Bureau which will improve the industry's response to organised fraud."