Staged automobile accidents done to defraud insurance companies are a major problem.   Recently, Mackenzy Noze was sentenced to four years in prison for his role as the ringleader in an automobile insurance fraud scam operated between 2011 and 2014.  The manner in which the accidents were staged  was that Noze would drive someone’s care into a tree or pole on remote roads in Connecticut.  He would then leave the vehicle and the car’s owner would then get in the car, call for help and tell their insurance company that they were driving when they lost control of their car due to bad weather or swerved to avoid hitting an animal. In Noze’s scam, the car owners themselves were complicit, but scammers also stage automobile accidents in many  other ways taking advantage of innocent victims, such as when they slam on their brakes while driving in front of you without giving you an opportunity to stop, causing you to hit them from behind.  Generally, the scammers will have phony witnesses to bolster their case.  Sometimes they are willing to settle with you for cash rather than involve your insurance company, but other times they are looking to defraud your insurance company.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, call the police.  When you exchange license and registration information, be careful not to provide more information than necessary  in order to protect yourself from identity theft.  Report all accidents to your insurance company and make sure that you get the license and registration of the other driver.  Make sure you see the actual license and registration rather than just take the information provided by the other driver.