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27 April 2011, 15:01 | Updated: 27 April 2011, 15:25
Three people from Luton have been jailed as an investigation into a £5 million "cash for crash" insurance scam came to an end.
The trio were part of a gang who organised the con by staging road traffic collisions then submitting false insurance claims.
A five-year probe by Bedfordshire Police, codenamed Operation Exhort, resulted in a total of 38 defendants appearing at crown court over three years - representing one of the largest fraud rings seen by the industry, police said.
At the culmination of the case, Kamsan "Kimmy" Mahmood, Istafa Hussain, and Peter Charlery were all handed jail sentences at Luton Crown Court after they were previously found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Mahmood, 43, of Lincoln Road, Luton, was sentenced to five years; Hussain, 35, of Lincoln Road, Luton to four-and-a-half years; and Charlery, 45, of Carol Close, Luton, to 18 months, Bedfordshire Police said.
A spokeswoman said the entire investigation led to 33 defendants pleading guilty to a variety of offences in connection with the £5.3 million fraud.
The remaining five pleaded not guilty at two separate trials - four have been convicted and one acquitted. A further eight were cautioned for their involvement.
Bedfordshire Police said the inquiry focused on more than 180 accidents that were dealt with by Swift Accident Management, the accident management company at the heart of the fraud, of which 230 individual claims were made by drivers or passengers. The force looked at 60 of those accidents, 46 of which were fully investigated, resulting in the last 21 claims being presented in evidence at the last trial, which finished two weeks ago.
Bedfordshire Police, which investigated with industry partner the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said the probe had uncovered a web of deceit involving people from a number of professions from the legal, medical and motor trade. Police said the 38 defendants appeared at separate Crown Court hearings over a period of three years. Earlier court proceedings could not be published until now for legal reasons.
Two defendants who could not be previously identified could also be named. Saraj Qazi, 30, of Westbourne Road, Luton, was jailed for five years, and Majid Hussain, 33, of Wychwood Avenue, Luton, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years after they were both convicted of charges of fraud and conspiracy to defraud.