SCAMMERS ARE using social media to trick drivers into buying fake car insurance policies.
Police in London warn that around 850 people have reported falling victim so-called ‘ghost brokers’, over the past three years – but the numbers are feared to be the tip of the iceberg.
The brokers pretend to act as genuine middle-men who seek to secure the best deal for consumers, saving drivers legwork in the process.
On average, drivers duped into buying fake car insurance hand over £769. And many won’t realise that they have been tricked, meaning they continue to drive without valid insurance – which can incur a £300 fine and six penalty points, or result in the car being seized and crushed.
City of London Police warn the true number of ghost broking victims may be much higher than current figures for known cases. Often, drivers only discover the scam after attempting to make a claim on their insurance or when they are stopped by the police.
The insurance scammers typically target men in their 20s on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.
Fraudsters supply forge documents, falsify driver details to bring the cost down and pocket the difference or even take out a genuine policy before cancelling it and keeping any refund.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, Head of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said: “Ghost brokers trick unsuspecting victims with offers of heavily discounted car insurance, leaving them with a policy that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and open to the severe harm that comes with driving without valid insurance. Being able to drive is vital for a lot people, whether it be to get to work or pick up their children from school or nursery, so if they fall victim to a ghost broker it could not only impact on them financially but also seriously affect their day to day life.”
Ghost brokers: how to spot a car insurance scam
- Check whether any broker is authorised, using the Financial Conduct Authority or the British Insurance Brokers’ Association websites: register.fca.org.uk and biba.org.uk
- Contact the insurance company directly to verify the broker’s details
- Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is
- Ghost brokers often advertise on student websites or money-saving forums, university notice boards and marketplace websites
- Be wary of brokers using only mobile phone or email as a way of contact
- Ghost brokers may use messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook, to minimise the risk of being traced after they’ve taken your money
- You can check to see if your car is legitimately insured on the Motor Insurance Database website: ownvehicle.askmid.com