Police are warning drivers to be aware of a new menace on our roads – those practising the dark art of 'flash-for-cash' scams, where the fraudster flashes their headlights at a fellow motorist to allow them to exit a junction, only to deliberately plough into them.
Anti-fraud experts believe gangs are targeting vulnerable road users, including elderly drivers and women with children in the car.
The scheme is an extension on the 'crash-for-cash' scam, which sees criminals slam on their brakes for no reason, forcing the car behind to slam into the vehicle in front, enabling a fraudulent claim.
However, the new 'flash-for-cash' scam is much harder to prove in court as it often boils down to an innocent driver's word against that of a criminal as to whether they did or did not flash their lights.
Every fake accident can net these criminal gangs thousands of pounds through a variety of insurance fraud.
The BBC says that criminals will put in false personal injury claims for whiplash, sometimes including claims for people who were not even in the car. Added to that, they might charge the insurance company for loss of earnings, then they put in fake bills for vehicle storage, recovery, repairs, and replacement car hire.
Detective Inspector Dave Hindmarsh from the Metropolitan Police told the BBC: "The problem is a growing problem. Financially it costs insurers £392m a year - that impacts on motorists as it's an extra £50 to £100 on every person's premium so that's a financial cost.
"[There are] emotional costs [as] if you're involved in a crash you could well lose your confidence, and if your passengers are children they may well become wary of being passengers in cars, and of course you may get injured or killed."
Although the flashing of headlights is generally accepted as a polite gesture to allow other road users to exit junctions or enter queuing traffic, the Highway Code states that flashing headlights should only be used, "to let other road users know that you are there."
Do you think criminals are abusing a good will gesture? Or should motorists generally be more wary? Have your say below