An insurance fraudster from London has been sentenced after he took out several fraudulent motor insurance policies whilst acting as a ‘ghost broker’ and then staged or invented collisions in order to submit fraudulent injury claims against the various policies.
The fraudster was caught after a joint investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) and the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) linked together several disparate bogus claims back to the same person.
Hojjat Nickhoo, 32, of Enfield was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, at the Old Bailey (18th August) after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud.
Between October 2010 and April 2012, Nickhoo persuaded various friends and acquaintances that he could get them cheap deals on their car insurance, although he was never authorised to act as an insurance broker. He charged his victims – many of whom spoke little or no English and were from Turkish and Iranian communities in and around Enfield – between £80-£100 to take out the policies on their behalf - but he would often provide false and incorrect details for the policies, such as using false addresses to lower the premiums.
Having incepted policies on their behalf, he then went about inventing accidents and claimed he or others were injured in collisions involving some of the vehicles he’d helped to get insured. In some cases, Nickhoo persuaded the car owners to go along with the ruse and other times, he simply reported the collisions without their knowledge.
Whilst none of the personal injury claims ended up being paid out, officers calculated that of the specific examples they investigated, over £39,000 worth of attempted injury claims had been submitted as part of the fraud.
The case was flagged to IFED officers after intelligence analysts at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) identified a number of suspected fraudulent motor insurance claims against more than 20 different insurers that all had links back to Nickhoo.
Nickhoo was arrested by IFED detectives in December 2015 and when he was interviewed he admitted acting as an unauthorised insurance broker, although he initially denied that he was involved in making false claims on the policies.
However, when officers spoke with some of the people Nickhoo incepted policies on behalf of, they either had no knowledge of the collisions that their cars had reportedly been involved with, or they explained how Nickhoo had persuaded and forced them to say the collisions had happened when they didn’t. In one particular instance, officers discovered that Nickhoo had even crashed a victim’s vehicle on purpose so he could then make the fraudulent injury claims.
Nickhoo was charged with conspiracy to defraud to which he pleaded guilty in July before he was sentenced as above.
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt, from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, who investigated the case said: “Nickhoo deliberately set out to defraud insurers in various ways – from acting as a ghost broker and taking out fraudulent policies for people who trusted him, to then making false injury claims for collisions that never happened or that he deliberately staged.
“However, working with the Insurance Fraud Bureau, we were able to link together what were seemingly random claims across various insurers and show how Nickhoo was attempting to commit fraud.
“Anyone who thinks submitting fraudulent claims to insurers is a way to make easy money is sorely mistaken and the work that insurers, the IFB and we do here in IFED means that more and more fraudsters are being identified and brought to justice.”
Ben Fletcher, Director of the IFB said: “This sentencing sends a clear message to fraudsters that the insurance industry is committed to tackling fraud. Working with IFED, we were able to piece together a sophisticated cross-industry fraud network affecting 25 different insurers.
“The message is clear, if you are committing fraud then the risk of being caught and prosecuted is very real. Fraudsters face the prospect of heavy fines, a criminal record and imprisonment with potentially restricted access to financial services. It is simply not worth the risk.”