Police have made five arrests as part of an ongoing insurance fraud investigation in Sunderland.
Officers working with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) executed a search warrant on Wednesday morning at A1 Recovery Management in Hepworth Road, Southwick.
Three homes in Rutland Avenue, Freesia Gardens and Dykelands Road were also searched and a quantity of cash, jewellery and documentation was recovered.
Three men aged 48, 42 and 40, and two women aged 49 and 46 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
All have been bailed pending further enquiries.
Police said the action taken was in response to concerns relating to suspected fraudulent insurance claims by a Sunderland-based accident management company.
Detective Inspector Paul Woods said: “The activity was carried out on Wednesday and is part of an ongoing, long-term ‘crash for cash’ investigation. Five arrests have been made and enquiries are still ongoing.”
The arrests were made on the day that a new report about the “crash-for-cash” phenomenon was published by the IFB.
The report, “Crash for Cash – putting the brakes on fraud”, links one in seven personal injury claims to a suspected organised fraud ring.
The report also estimates that crash -or-cash costs the UK nearly £400 million every year, with honest policyholders ultimately picking up the bill through increased premiums.
Ben Fletcher, head of operations at the IFB, said: “We work with police forces up and down the country to expose alleged crash-for-cash scams and disrupt the work of organised networks suspected of orchestrating fraud against the insurance industry.
“This is affecting every honest policyholder in the UK and we are urging members of the public to play their part in putting a stop to this. Anyone can report suspected insurance fraudsters to the Cheatline – powered by Crimestoppers – by calling 0800 422 0421.”