The City of London Police are warning drivers about the growing number of ghost brokers, who sell fake insurance policies. Over 850 reports of ‘ghost broking’ – where fraudsters sell fake car insurance – were submitted to Action Fraud between 2014 and October 2017.
Around £631,000 has been lost to this crime with victims paying out an average of £769 per incident. City of London Police has warned under-reporting may mean the true scale of ghost broking is even higher, meaning thousands of people may have been fooled into buying fraudulent insurance packages.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, head of City of London Police’s insurance fraud enforcement department, said: “Ghost brokers trick unsuspecting victims with offers of heavily discounted car insurance, leaving them with a policy that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
Ghost brokers normally take one of three approaches to conning their victims: forging insurance documents; falsifying the driver’s details to bring down the price; or cancelling a genuine policy to claim the refund and their victim’s money.
Police analysis shows male drivers, typically aged 20-29 are most likely to be targeted, and they will usually be contacted through social media or adverts in print media. It’s unsurprising that many drivers are willing to take a punt on bargain basement insurance, as quotes for younger male drivers, especially in high risk postcodes, can easily top £2000 per year.
Ghost Brokers Convicted
In 2016, 33-year-old Renan Gomes was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment after he set up 133 false insurance policies and defrauded his victims out of £89,000.
Recently a gang of 13 criminals were sentenced for their part in a separate £95,000 car insurance fraud, where payments were made using a compromised credit card, and then refunds were claimed to a legitimate card. These included Mohammed Shoaib, Waqaas Jabbar and Mohammed Mushitaq, all of Rochdale, Greater Manchester. More on that story at the City of London media pages here.
City of London Police is recommending drivers be wary of heavily discounted prices online or brokers who only make contact over phone or email. It also advised the public to check brokers’ details with insurance companies, or on the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website.
Ben Fletcher, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, said: “It is essential that we raise awareness about the issue of ghost broking to stop innocent victims being targeted and to educate those who may consider buying insurance from a disreputable source.”