FIVE Keighley people will appear at crown court later this month accused of trying to claim nearly £170,000 by committing 'crash for cash' insurance fraud.

Four men and a woman from the town, along with a man from Nelson, made an appearance at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court yesterday following a long-running investigation by a London-based specialist anti-fraud squad.

All six have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and conspiracy to acquire criminal property.

The accused are Mohammed Farooq, 27, of Spencer Street, Keighley; Israr Hussain, 31, also of Spencer Street; Fozia Kausar, 31, of Red Holt Crescent, Keighley; Shazad Shad, 30, of Edensor Road, Keighley; Muhammad Taj, 41, of Victoria Avenue, Lawkholme, Keighley and Ansar Mahmood, 31, of Manchester Road, Nelson.

Shad is also charged with possession of a weapon used for the discharge of a noxious liquid or gas, namely CS spray, which is illegal in the UK.

During the brief ten-minute hearing, prosecutor Steve Rushton made an application for the matter to be transferred to crown court.

Deputy District Judge Duncan Birrell granted the application, and told the six defendants: "All of you will be sent forthwith to Bradford Crown Court."

Mahmood, wearing a bright yellow T-shirt, was presented to the court from custody and Judge Birrell told him he would remain there until the date of the crown court hearing.

Farooq, Hussain, Shad, and Taj, all dressed in dark tracksuits, were granted unconditional bail, along with Kausar, who appeared in court in a black top and pink scarf.

Farooq indicated he would be entering a not guilty plea at a hearing at Bradford Crown Court, set for February 26, while the other five defendants made no indication of their pleas.

The six defendants are accused of conspiring to commit fraud by making a series of false representations to insurance companies and law firms, saying they were genuine policy holders to make personal injury claims to the value of £167,246.

On the charge related to Mahmood, he is accused of conspiring with Farooq, Hussain, Shad, Taj, and Kausar to become involved in an arrangement where they knew or suspected the acquisition, retention, use, or control of criminal property, namely £37,059.

The charges relate to the period between January 7, 2011, and February 28, 2014.

An investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department into suspected "contrived collision fraud" had led to several raids on Keighley properties in spring 2013.

As part of a joint operation with West Yorkshire Police, eight properties in the town were raided and five people arrested on the morning of April 23, 2013.

Subsequent raids in the town, on May 24 and July 10, resulted in two further arrests.