Motorists are warned off bogus insurance deals sold in car parks
Drivers have been warned their insurance will be cancelled if they buy policies for cash from so-called ghost brokers.
Fraudsters are selling fake motor insurance policies, but many of those buying them, typically in car parks, know the cover is based on counterfeit documents.
The warning comes after four people were arrested and more than 600 motor insurance policies will now be cancelled following an investigation into ghost brokers operating in Dublin.
Gardaí conducted a number of searches over the past few days. One person has been charged in connection with theft and fraud offences, and was due to appear in court.
The investigation involved the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Economic National Crime Bureau and the traffic corps.
Rob Smyth, head of fraud with Aviva Insurance, said anyone who had a false policy bought from a ghost broker would end up having the policy cancelled, and they would be out of pocket for any money given to the fraudster. He said the ghost broker problem was far bigger than most think, and affected 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.
The con artists typically advertise through Facebook or by using pop-up shops.
Transactions usually take place in car parks, and for cash.
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 insurance discs and no-claims bonus certificates, and sell these on to innocent drivers.
Mr Smyth said many people buying from ghost brokers often knew well they were buying a dodgy policy.
"If you are getting the policy for half the price, and are paying cash in a car park then you know there is something not right with it.
"Some are innocent, but many of those buying insurance from these ghost brokers know it is not legitimate," he said.
He said insurers were in constant contact with Facebook asking for accounts of ghost brokers to be taken down.
As soon as they are removed they reappear in a different guise.
Cloned credit cards are being used by the ghost brokers to buy polices, often with fake no-claims certs. 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.
Liberty Insurance said it was currently investigating 10 separate ghost brokerage practices.
Insurance Ireland encouraged customers to be vigilant, and to check the list of approved brokers on the Central Bank's website before buying insurance.