Police warning over scam that could leave you uninsured

The scam sees people being targeted on social media
The scam sees people being targeted on social media

Police are warning of a new car insurance scam doing the rounds on social media.

The warning comes after officers in Somercotes seized a car from a woman who fell for a social media ghost broker.

The 37-year-old was stopped on Sunday April 8 and her car was seized after checks revealed she had been driving uninsured.

Ghost broking is the name given to a fraud used by conmen who sell fraudulent car insurance online – often with heavily discounted rates.

The fraud is typically carried out in a number of ways: conmen will either forge insurance documents, falsify the driver’s details to bring the price down or take out a genuine policy, before cancelling it soon after and claiming the refund plus the victim’s money.

PC Andrew Swift, of the Somercotes and Riddings Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The woman had paid £120 to a man she came across through Facebook, who had assured her she would be insured to drive under a trader’s policy, but in this instance she received no documents or confirmation of the policy, and it turned out to be a con.

“While it might be very tempting to agree to what might seem like a bargain priced insurance policy, but if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.”

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber reporting centre, received more than 850 reports linked to ghost broking between 2014 and 2017, but it is believed that the true number of ghost broking victims may be much higher, as some motorists may be driving on the roads right now unaware that their policy is fraudulent.

It is only when they are stopped by police, or attempt to make a claim, will they find out that they don’t have genuine cover.

PC Swift added: “When you consider that some of the penalties for driving uninsured include points on your driving licence, having your vehicle seized, a fixed penalty notice or potentially liable costs if involved in an accident, then it really is worth making sure you have your car insured with a reputable company.”

So how can you avoid becoming a victim of ghost insurance brokers? Here are some top tips:

Avoid becoming a victim of ghost broking

Ghost brokers often advertise on student websites or money-saving forums, university notice boards and marketplace websites. They may also try to sell insurance policies in pubs, clubs or bars, newsagents and car repair shops.

Be wary of ghost brokers using only mobile phone or email as a way of contact. Ghost brokers have even been reported using messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook. Fraudsters don’t want to be traced after they’ve taken your money.

If you are not sure about the broker, check on the Financial Conduct Authority or the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website for a full list of all authorised insurance brokers: register.fca.org.uk and biba.org.uk.

You can also contact the insurance company directly to verify the broker’s details.

You can check to see if your car is legitimately insured on the Motor Insurance Database website: ownvehicle.askmid.com.

If you have or think you have been a victim of ghost broking, get in touch with IFED via phone on 0207 164 8200 or email at IFEDIntel@cityoflondon.pnn.police.uk. Alternatively, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.

You can also report to the IFB’s Cheatline by completing their online form or by calling anonymously and in confidence on 0800 422 0421.

Click here for more information on the #SteerClearOfFraud run by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department.