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Sunday 22 October 2017

Fake insurance brokers going door to door to rip off motorists

Jonathan Hehir
Jonathan Hehir
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Motorists have been warned that fake motor insurance brokers are going door to door offering cover.

The scammers, who operate with a laptop in hand, claim they can arrange discounted cover. But the policies are invalid because the fraudsters make up the details when they buy policies from insurance companies.

It is understood one bandit broker is about to be arrested - but not before they sold more than 100 dodgy policies in the Dublin area.

The Irish Independent yesterday revealed how in a new development in this country, fraudsters claiming to be insurance brokers are selling fake motor insurance policies to motorists.

They are charging people up to €300 and then leaving the drivers with no cover.

The "insurance sharks" are operating online and in pop-up shops, often targeting youngsters. They are known as 'ghost brokers' in the industry.

But now it has emerged they are also turning up on people's doorsteps claiming they can secure discounted policies - which will be particularly worrying for older drivers.

The most brazen of the ghost brokers are calling to houses, according to insurance sources.

Read More: Thousands fear being overcharged on bills

It is understood that one bandit broker alone has sold more than 100 invalid policies in the Dublin area, with an arrest understood to be imminent.

A number of reports about ghost brokers have now been made to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau by insurers.

Major insurer Liberty has warned drivers to be on the look-out for people claiming to be brokers, but who are not authorised by the Central Bank.

These people take insurance discs and documents, or secure policies from mainstream insurers. A key to the scam is the ghost broker creating a fake five-year no-claims bonus.

They are exploiting the fact that motor insurance premiums have shot up in the last three years, with young people suffering in particular.

The fraudsters pose as legitimate middlemen, claiming they can cut costs.

However, they are not regulated and often operate from home addresses using mobile phone numbers.

A spokeswoman for Liberty Insurance warned: "In the past 12 months alone, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of ghost brokers, including one who has already provided in excess of 100 quotes to unsuspecting motorists."

She added that Liberty was aware that other insurers were being hit by the bandit brokers trying to scam them.

However, a spokesman for representative body Insurance Ireland claimed it was not aware that there was a widespread problem with ghost brokers.

One insurance expert said the problem was widespread.

Jonathan Hehir, of CoverInAClick.ie, said there was an emerging problem of unauthorised brokers claiming they can get people discounted cover.

He said fake brokers do this by falsifying a no-claims bonus, often without the knowledge of the motorist.

Drivers are under huge pressure from costly premiums, which had been rising for two-and-a-half years. They finally dropped slightly in April.

Irish Independent

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