phantom accident
n. A faked automobile collision, the purpose of which is to defraud an insurance company.
Ten people were indicted Oct. 14 on charges of participating in a 'phantom' accident ring that defrauded insurers of at least $ 33,000….

According to the four indictments, the scheme involved members of the ring making bodily injury and property damage claims for 'accidents' that never occurred. Specifically, in many of the instances, one member of the group would call an insurer and claim that he or she ran a stop sign and collided with a car allegedly driven by another ring member. Later, the other ring member would call the insurer to make the same claim and a damaged car would be presented for appraisal.
—“10 Indicted In Illinois For 'Phantom' Accident Scheme,” Mealey's Litigation Report, October 01, 1999
1990 (earliest)
Law Department officials said many of the accidents either did not happen, or occurred only once, but the defendants created 'phantom accidents' and filed false reports to collect insurance money.
—Hank Ernest Jr., “15 B'klyn Residents Indicted in Scam,” Newsday, July 19, 1990
Drivers are now accustomed to the phenomenon of the phantom accident: three lanes of tightly packed cars inch forward for miles, and then, suddenly, everyone is going sixty again, with no visible sign of what caused the delay. They are experiencing the 'memory' of an ancient fender bender.
—Louis Menand, “Alone Together,” The New Yorker, July 02, 2001
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