The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) is warning motorists of the dangers of buying insurance from unauthorised insurance brokers or ‘ghost brokers’ who are potentially leaving thousands of unwitting victims driving without insurance.
To coincide with the MIB’s (Motor Insurers’ Bureau) Operation Drive Insured awareness week with police forces from 17 to 23 October, IFED teamed up with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) to share intelligence on insurance policies linked to suspect ghost broking activity. As part of a week-long trial, City of London Police ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) databases will flag vehicles that are linked to suspected ghost brokers and officers will be stopping vehicles to check drivers are not unwittingly driving without valid insurance.
In the past year Action Fraud has taken 157 reports from victims of ghost brokers, with reported losses totalling over £214,000, with each victim losing on-average over £1360 each. But IFED officers believe the true number of ghost broking victims is much higher than that and many victims could be driving on the roads completely unaware that the insurance policy they think they have in place is in fact worthless.
Since it was established in 2012, IFED has carried out 86 investigations into suspected ghost brokers, with the total value of the frauds in excess of £11.5 million. In one investigation alone, officers identified over 600 people who had fallen foul of the ghost broker.
Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Little, who is the Head of the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said: “Many people will be looking to find the best possible deal for their car insurance, but if you’re getting somebody to broker a deal for you, then you must make sure they’re a fully authorised insurance broker.
“Not only are fraudsters leaving their victims out of pocket when they take their money, they’re also leaving their victims potentially liable for tens of thousands of pounds if they are involved in a crash whilst uninsured. We’ve seen many victims who have had their car seized and given fines and points on their licence because they were stopped driving without valid insurance and had absolutely no idea.”
Ben Fletcher, Director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) said: “Uninsured driving is a complex issue and in turn requires tackling in a number of ways. Application fraud, including ghost broking, means that people may be driving on our roads without valid insurance, putting both themselves and other road users at risk. This week’s operational activity demonstrates the lengths that the insurance industry will go to protect honest motorists.”