As many people in the insurance sector know, ghost broking is still around and in many parts of the UK, thriving quite nicely. The temptation, especially for younger and high risk drivers like delivery operatives, is to reduce those pesky car or van insurance premiums by sourcing a policy online, often using social media. The result is uninsured drivers and sometimes passengers too. So let’s tip the hat to the City of London Police as they score a rare win in the battle against ghost brokers. Once again however, no jail time and money has been sent overseas, so no chance of getting that back – crime pays.
Here’s the word;
Ikram Rafique, 31, of South Road, Romford, was found guilty of money laundering and acting as an unlicensed broker following a trial at Inner London Crown Court. He was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, at the same court on Monday 31st July 2023. He was also ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work.
His cousin and former co-worker, Mohammad Hamad, 31, of Ashley Avenue, Ilford, was also found guilty of money laundering after he rinsed the funds obtained by Rafique. He was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work.
Rafique acted as a ghost broker between January 2016 and December 2018 and sold fraudulent, manipulated motor insurance policies to unsuspecting policy holders. He also used a bank account under another name, Qiuhong Chen, to receive the broker fees associated with arranging the fraudulent insurance policies.
An investigation by IFED found that Rafique manipulated customer details to obtain cheaper quotes and then used the customer’s own bank card details to pay for the policies, telling the victims that a ‘broker fee’ was needed to be paid into the account under the name of Qiuhong Chen. The broker fee was usually between £200 to £300 per policy.
Rafique then laundered the victim’s money through a number of bank accounts, as well as transferring funds to a money service bureau and laundering the proceeds out of the UK. Hamad also received money into his own account from the Qiuhong Chen account.
A court production order was obtained and an analysis on the Qiuhong Chen account found that it received £302,036.71 in a 24 month period. The analysis found that victims’ money was also being transferred into accounts held by Hamad, with the payment reference either stating a name or a number. All of the money entering the Qiuhong Chen bank account was of a similar amount and appeared to be linked predominantly to the purchase of motor insurance policies.
The primary insurer was first contacted in February 2017 by another insurance company, providing documentation of a person who appeared to be a victim of ghost broking. Checks were made on the policy and it was found the policy details had been amended, and the documents provided by the second insurer had been doctored with their logos.
The insurer subsequently identified a number of policies which were believed to have incorrect details on them, and the names of the policyholders were found to have made payments into the Qiuhong Chen account.
During the investigation, a number of victims provided statements saying that they had paid up to £300 to the Qiuhong Chen bank account, and many stated they had spoken to a man called ‘Mr Ikram’.
The investigation found that 974 transactions of this nature were paid into the account between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2017, totalling £208,200. A further 311 third party payments totalling £73,913.55 were also discovered.