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Avoid being a victim of flash for cash scams

Carlton Boyce / 14 January 2016 ( 28 April 2017 )

How does this scam work and how can you prevent it happening to you?

Car flashing its headlights
Use your own judgement when deciding if it is safe to pull out of a junction

Desperate to keep one step ahead of the police and insurance industry, fraudsters and criminals have come up with a new scam, Flash for Cash, a variant on the so-called Crash for Cash sting that has been catching unwary motorists out for years.

Here’s what it is and, more importantly, how you can avoid falling prey to it.

Six obscure motoring laws you probably won't be aware of

How does it work?

Criminals in a car will flash their headlights to let you out of a junction or petrol station forecourt. 

When you acknowledge their kindness by joining the main carriageway they will deliberately drive into your car. They will then make a claim on your insurance policy for the damage caused to their car and for the (largely bogus) personal injury they will claim to have suffered.

Have you heard about the petrol and rings scam?

How to avoid becoming a target

It’s a clever scam because the subsequent insurance claim will come down to one driver’s word against another – and even if the insurance claim assessor believes you when you tell them that you were flashed out, it isn’t a defence: Rule 111 of the Highway Code states:

"Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully."

So the only way to avoid falling prey is to ignore what may well be another motorist’s genuine act of kindness and to only enter the road when the way is clear. Sad, but true.

Six petrol myths busted

If you fall victim to a scam

Our advice is to treat all accidents in the same way, something we covered here in an article about what to do if you have an accident

In short, that means you should:

  • Stop when it is safe to do so.
  • Exchange details with the other driver.
  • Never admit liability.
  • Try to gather the name and address of any independent witnesses.

Of course, if you’ve fitted a dashcam then you’ve got the perfect witness, the mention of which might just deter a criminal from proceeding as they are notoriously camera shy…

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.