Manchester 'ghostbroker' jailed after nine months on the run

Maur Dumitru

A Romanian man, who acted as an insurance ‘ghostbroker’ to set up over 150 fraudulent motor insurance policies in a £200k scam has been jailed for 20 months.

Maur Dumitru went on the run for nine months after failing to appear at court for his sentencing last year, but was located and arrested on 27 April by officers in Manchester. The fraud was uncovered by insurer Aviva and then investigated by the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, part of the City of London Police.

Between July 2012 and April 2013, Dumitru, of Sherrington Street, Manchester, took out 151 fraudulent motor insurance policies with Aviva, acting as an unlicensed broker to get his friends and acquaintances – many of whom spoke little or no English – seemingly cheap deals on their car insurance.

Dumitru was falsifying some of the key details on the policies in order to get his ‘clients’ the cheap rates by using addresses in places such as Aberdeen or Bromsgrove as the home address for the vehicles instead of in Manchester where the vehicles were actually being kept.

In all, the policies taken out by Dumitru were approximately £200,000 cheaper than had the correct addresses been used.

The fraud came to light when Aviva noticed the large volume of policies being incepted in the unusual locations. Further analysis by their fraud team revealed several of the policies were paid for with the same bank cards and led them to suspect that the policies were fraudulent.

The case was passed to IFED to investigate and officers traced the computer that had been used to set up the policies back to Dumitru’s address. Officers searched his address in May 2013 and seized his computer, where they found several documents relating to the fraudulent policies. Officers analysed Dumitru’s bank accounts where they found several payments to Aviva, along with various payments in Dumitru’s bank account, which were effectively the arrangement fees he was receiving.

After pleading guilty to fraud by false representation, Dumitru was originally due to appear at the Old Bailey for sentencing on 3 July 2015, but failed to appear. A warrant for his arrest was issued and IFED officers continued to investigate his whereabouts and he was eventually tracked down in Manchester and arrested on 27 April.

He appeared at the Old Bailey the following day, and was remanded in custody before his sentencing on 5 May. He was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for fraud by false representation and also sentenced to an additional two months’ imprisonment (consecutive) for failing to appear at his original sentencing hearing.

Sergeant Steven Holland, from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said: “Dumitru set himself up as an illegal insurance broker, selling fraudulent policies to other Romanians he knew and contacted throughout the Manchester area. He then went on the run, thinking that he could evade justice, but our resolve to find him never faltered and he is now facing a lengthy time behind bars.

“He exploited people who were new to the country and left them with policies that were invalid. This sort of insurance fraud not only harms those that think they’re insured, but aren’t, but can also harm other law-abiding road users if they’re involved with a driver who later turns out to be uninsured. ”

Tom Gardiner, Head of Fraud at Aviva, said: “Aviva is pleased with the sentence handed down to Mr Dumitru, which we hope will serve as a deterrent to others who believe they can deliberately misrepresent policy details in order to get cheap cover they are not entitled to, and which pushes up premiums paid by genuine customers.

“In this instance, Mr Dumitru’s scam was foiled by Aviva’s Policy Investigation Unit who detected more than 150 car insurance policies Mr Dumitru had arranged for friends and family using false details in order to obtain cheap insurance cover. In total, the premium for these policies would have been more than £200,000. Aviva alerted IFED to the case and after nine months on the run Mr Dumitru was finally sentenced for the fraud. This case shows highlights the serious consequences of application fraud and that we won’t rest in bringing fraudsters to justice.”