Emergence of ghost brokers adds to the hazards faced by hard-pressed motorists
Given the surge in the cost of motor insurance cover in the last few years, it is probably not surprising that dodgy practices have emerged. Motor insurance is expensive and compulsory, and can be difficult to obtain for some drivers.
False and exaggerated personal injury claims are a persistent problem, as the risk of detection is zero according to the chairman of the Personal Injuries Commission, former High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.
But another menace is on the rise. The new hazard comes from the operations of what are known as ghost brokers.
Ghost brokers are professional fraudsters selling forged or invalid discounted insurance policies to unsuspecting consumers.
They usually advertise their services online or within local communities, typically claiming to be able to secure you a cheap motor insurance policy.
In the past few weeks, four people have been arrested and more than 600 motor insurance policies will now be cancelled following an investigation into alleged ghost brokers operating in Dublin.
Drivers have been warned that anyone who has a false policy bought from a ghost broker will end up having the policy cancelled, and they will be out of pocket for any money given to the fraudster.
It appears that the ghost broker problem is far bigger than most think it is, and affects all insurers.
A ghost broker claims to have a commercial relationship with insurance companies and falsely claims they can procure insurance, usually at a discount.
These con artists typically advertise through Facebook or by using pop-up shops. Transactions usually take place in car parks. And there is always a cash transaction.
Fraudulent policies are sold by the ghost brokers buying cover from a legitimate insurer by using false information, and then selling that on to a motorist for cash.
They also use fake policy documents, especially no-claims bonus certificates, and sell these on to innocent drivers.
Some of those buying polices from ghost brokers often know well they are buying a dodgy policy, others are innocent victims.
Cloned credit cards are being used by the ghost brokers to buy polices. When the payment is refused the policyholder finds they have no cover.
In some cases the fraudsters are charging fees of up to €300 for securing the insurance policies, and demand payment in cash.
Drivers, you have been warned. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is, as the saying goes.
Sunday Indo Business