The number of “crash for cash” car insurance scams uncovered by a major insurer surged by 51% annually last year.

Aviva said it had detected around 820 staged accidents in 2013, leading to some 2,200 fraudulent personal injury claims.

It is pressing for tougher penalties and said that often, rather than being locked up, fraudsters end up being sentenced to community orders, which “do little” to deter them from re-offending.

Aviva, which insures around one in 10 cars in the UK, said that organised gangs are behind half of all the fake motor injury claims it uncovers.

It suggested that growing industry-wide efforts to weed out bogus whiplash claims which drive up the cost of insurance could be prompting criminals who may have previously completely fabricated a “ghost” accident which never actually happened at all to instead stage a crash for cash induced

accident, in a bid to produce more “evidence” to back up a claim.

Often, innocent motorists get caught up in crash for cash incidents. Usually, in road traffic accidents where one vehicle is hit from behind by another, it is the driver of the car behind who is deemed to be at fault. So, in a crash for cash incident, a car may brake suddenly in front of the innocent victim, leaving them with little chance but to run into the back of them.

There have also been reports of fraudsters disconnecting their brake lights so that the car behind has even less chance of stopping.

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