81 convicted in 'Cash for Crash' Insurance Fraud
In 2011, Gwent Police began to investigate Easifix, a car repair business run by members of the Yandell family. Initially, Easyfix was brought to the attention of the police through a tip-off about a stolen car. Upon visiting the business, they discovered the remains of the stolen car but this was only the beginning of what would become a complex investigation, named “Operation Dino” - an operation that would expose the most highly organised and largest motor insurance fraud the UK has even seen.
Gwent police were determined to prove that the Yandells and their accomplices were lying about their insurance claims, so Operation Dino turned to OSINT Investigation techniques find proof of fraud and deception by 81 people.
Detective Constable Sara Morris said: "I don't think they ever expected us to go to into the depth that we did by researching all of the social media.”
Detective Constable Morris performed a detailed investigation of the suspects' Facebook profiles, examining photos, comments, posts, likes and friends to build the case.
"I found pictures on people's accounts who weren't obviously connected, but they had posted photographs of weddings, nights out and christenings which showed many of these individuals knew each other."
"One claim involved Byron Yandell and a woman in one vehicle, and they claimed to have a collision with three other people. They said they didn't know each other."
"By researching Facebook and finding pictures of Byron's wedding, we have photos which show quite clearly that they all attended Byron's wedding.”
One big giveaway was also what they didn't put on Facebook:
"One woman lived her entire life on social media.”
"She put down what she had to eat, what she was doing on a daily basis and I would have thought that if she had smashed up her £11,000 BMW, she would have put it on her social media account.”
Over the last five years of the investigation, 83 people involved in the "Cash for Crash" scam have been found guilty -81 of conspiracy to defraud and 2 of theft. Sentences have ranged from suspended prison sentences to 6 years in prison. Gwent Police have not closed Operation Dino, they, believe as many as 100 more fraudsters might remain undetected.