The friends made the rogue claims after loading a coach with fellow Everton fans and pretending it had been hit by a car on the way to a greyhound racing meeting in Manchester.
However, the puzzled driver felt nothing and became suspicious later when he dropped the passengers off, and watched them running across a dual carriageway to a nearby boozer with no apparent injury or discomfort.
The plan was further foiled when a text message was found from one of the ringleaders to another, which read: “Need someone to do a crash. Do you know anyone? Paying a grand.”
Ringleaders Ben Carberry, 22, Liam Gray, 28 and Kevin Hamilton, 37, all from Liverpool, were jailed for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 31st October.
The three men, who knew each other through supporting Everton Football Club, staged an ‘accident’ having hired a coach to take 30 passengers to Belle Vue greyhound stadium in Manchester from a pub in Bootle, Liverpool, on 9th December 2011.
On the way to the track the coach driver, Paul Woodruff, was told to stop after passengers said he had crashed into a car on a roundabout.
Gray was in contact with law student Carberry, a passenger, who had arranged for Hamilton to deliberately ram the car into the coach, causing minor damage, during the journey.
All 30 passengers lodged personal injury claims with the insurance company which has a maximum pay out of £5,000 per person.
Liam Gray was sentenced to 14 months in prison, while his friends Ben Carberry and Kevin Hamilton were handed 11 month and four month jail terms.
Detective Sergeant Sgt Mark Forster, from the City of London Police, said: “This was a carefully planned crime by a group of friends who decided that a coach trip to the dog track was the perfect vehicle to commit insurance fraud on a large scale.
“The fact they were putting lives at risk by causing a crash on a busy motorway did not hold them back. They wanted an insurer’s money and were prepared to go the distance to get it.”
Malcolm Clemitson, from Mulsanne Insurance, said: “We will continue to adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards fraudulent claims.”