Four men from Birmingham have been sentenced after a ghost-broker insurance scam was uncovered by detectives from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), part of the City of London Police.
Mohammed Aquil, along with Amjad Hussain, Alwyn Snape and Anees Ahmed, conspired together to defraud insurance companies by providing false details and forged documents in order to get cheaper premiums for their motor insurance.
The main ghost broker and ‘architect’ behind the scam - Aquil - was making motor insurance applications on behalf of his ‘clients’ to get them cheaper car insurance deals. However, the reason he was able to get them cheaper deals was because he changed key information on the applications, such as the home address, dates of birth, or no-claims details.
He would then charge his ‘clients’ between £250-£500 for brokering the deal, but in reality, those people were holding invalid insurance because Aquil had provided false details to the insurance companies.
The scam was uncovered when investigators at Ageas noticed that three separate motor insurance policies had been taken out for Snape, Hussain and Ahmed. Common to all three policies was that their home address was in Birmingham, but the address where the vehicles were being stored overnight was stated as being at a holiday cottage in Somerset.
When asked by Ageas for proof that the vehicles were being kept at the Somerset location overnight, separate letters were sent back purporting to be from the manager of the holiday cottages stating that all three had been staying at the cottages long-term due to having jobs in the area.
However, when investigators contacted the cottage owners, they stated they had never heard of Snape, Hussain or Ahmed and when they saw the letters that had been sent to Ageas, they confirmed they were forgeries and hadn’t been written by them.
The cases were referred to IFED and officers found that all three policies had been opened via the Internet from the same IP address, which was linked to Aquil and that a debit account that was used to make an initial payment for one of the policies was also in Aquil’s name.
Officers raided his home address and seized his computers and phones. When they looked on his computer, detectives found several template documents that he had used for the fraudulent insurance applications.
When they examined his phone, officers also found hundreds of messages to people that he had been acting as a ghost broker for. When they carried out further checks, detectives found that Aquil had set up around 20 fraudulent policies.
Among these were the policies for Snape, Hussain and Ahmed. When they were questioned, all three admitted that they were fully aware of the false details Aquil had supplied and that they knew they would get cheaper insurance deals if they stated the vehicles were being kept at a different location overnight.
Police Staff Investigator Abdelkader Rezkallah, from IFED, who investigated the case said: “Aquil was making money by opening up insurance policies that contained false details and from the templates we found on his computer, it was clear he was doing this for a number of people and not just as a one-off.
“Snape, Hussain and Ahmed were also fully aware that they were providing false details to get cheaper insurance deals and as a result they all now have criminal records.
“If you think an insurance deal is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. If you’re in any doubt, then check the broker is registered with the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA), otherwise you may end up driving uninsured.”
Paula Howett, Fraud and Risk Manager at Ageas Insurance Limited said: “Cases such as this demonstrate how important it is for insurers to stay ahead of fraudsters and their ever-evolving tactics. Ageas uses a combination of anti-fraud measures at point of sale and claim, including investment in a dedicated underwriting team and training of astute claims handlers with the skills to pick up the signs of fraud. In this way we help to ensure innocent policyholders are not paying for the dishonesty of a select few.
“This case in particular highlights how ghost brokers can operate and take vast amounts of money from unsuspecting victims. However, thanks to the thorough work of our teams, and the support of Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), the fraudsters were caught. This is a great example of how Ageas and IFED continue to work together to combat fraud, and we are extremely pleased with the result.”
Mohammed Aquil previously pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and possession of articles for use in fraud. He was sentenced on Wednesday 10th February, at Birmingham Crown Court to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months as well as being ordered to carry out a nine-month rehabilitation order, pay £500 in costs and pay a £100 victim surcharge.
Amjad Hussain was sentenced to wear an electronic tag for one month with a curfew and Alwyn Snape and Anees Ahmed were sentenced to both carry out 40 hours of unpaid work; all three having all previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. In addition, they were ordered to pay £220 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.