Former broker charged with 39 counts of fraud after UK sting
Ten people have been arrested across the UK during a two-week police operation to tackle commercial insurance fraud.
The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) carried out the operation from October 30. “Crash for cash” fraud using business vehicles pushes insurance premiums up for everyone, the police say.
Examples of insurance fraud targeted included bogus claims on motor and business premises insurance, and “ghost” brokers who sold fake motor insurance policies for vehicles used for business purposes.
In one case, a former Essex-based insurance broker was charged with 39 counts of fraud by false representation and one count of money laundering.
“People who set themselves up as commercial ghost brokers leave drivers who believe they have bought a legitimate insurance policy uninsured,” Detective Inspector Simon Klust said. “We’re sending a clear message that we will disrupt the efforts of insurance fraudsters.”
In an operation supported by Axa, Allianz and Aviva, around 150 vehicles were stopped during a three-day period, and 18 vehicles which were driven without insurance were seized.
There were also fraudulent claims made by employees on their corporate benefit plans.
Insurance Fraud Bureau Head of Intelligence, Investigations and Data Services Jon Radford says a rise in commercial ghost brokers means a higher risk of innocent road users being involved in a collision with an uninsured vehicle.
"We're placing a greater focus on disrupting commercial insurance fraud,” he said.
Association of British Insurers Assistant Director Head of Fraud & Financial Crime Mark Allen says insurers work hard to pay legitimate claims quickly and insurance fraud is a crime with far reaching consequences for the fraudster, including receiving a custodial sentence, and difficulty in getting future insurance.
“Ultimately it pushes up the cost of insurance for all honest customers. This is why we fully support initiatives like this to crack down on the cheats and protect honest insurance customers.”
Last year, “ghost broker” Rodney Van der Puye was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment after he pocketed around £50,000 ($87,730) over 15 months by acting as an illegal intermediary and setting up hundreds of fraudulent motor policies on behalf of other people by using false details and compromised bank accounts.
The fraud targeted some of the UK’s biggest insurance companies, using his mother’s and unknowing members of the public’s identities to take out cheaper motor insurance policies. Police found 26 policies were taken out to insure just four vehicles over two years. The policies were persistently cancelled by insurers after payments were declined due to mismatched details.