Police in a city in Canada have issued a warning to motorists to look out for a cycling fraudster who they believe is faking collisions with their vehicles and demanding money from them.
Officers in Abbotsford, British Columbia, whose metropolitan area is home to around 170,000 people, say that they have attended three separate incidents apparently involving the same cyclist who claims he was struck by a car.
"But the drivers dispute it, and one actually claims the individual laid his bike in front of the car," said Constable Ian MacDonald of the Abbotsford Police Department.
It’s unclear whether the suspect, who has not been named, was present at the time the police attended those incidents.
According to the Abbostford Times, what the incidents have in common is that the motorists involved appear to be older women, and the cyclist demands cash to avoid a claim having to be made through the compulsory, government run Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) scheme.
The newspaper reports that besides the three incidents that the police have attended, the same individual, who has not been named, currently has nine separate outstanding claims with ICBC, each involving him having been struck by a vehicle while cycling.
The 12 incidents have taken place during an 18-month period, according to Constable MacDonald, the last as recently as 3 April.
"From a mathematical standpoint it's impossible [that the claims are legitimate]," insisted the officer.
"What's concerning is the actual number of incidents could be many more than what is documented," he added.
The fact there is a suspected fraudster allegedly using his bike to cheat motorists out of their money does of course have safety implications for other bike riders, not least the prospect that a driver may not stop at the scene of a incident.
However, police say that drivers involved in what seems to be a collision with a cyclist should call them.
"If a person on a bike is alleging they've been struck, they need to be checked out by an ambulance," advised Constable MacDonald.
"This guy's prepared to leave the area with cash in hand and is not thrilled when the suggestion of calling police is raised."
He added that any such incidents should also be reported immediately to the ICBC to prevent fraudulent follow-up claims from being made.
Police described the suspected fraudster as being a Caucasian male with a full beard, 5 foot 11 inches tall and 220 pounds in weight.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.