Warning over ‘ghost broking’ fraudsters targeting drivers in Essex

Victims are warned their cars could be seized if the insurance is not valid Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Victims are warned their cars could be seized if the insurance is not valid Picture: GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fraudsters offering fake insurance packages in Essex are leaving drivers at risk of having their cars seized or destroyed.

Essex Police has issued a warning over so called ‘ghost broking’ whereby fraudulent packages are being sold, often to young people, via social media, cold calls or in the street.

Criminals carry out the fraud by providing forged insurance documents, falsifying people’s details to bring prices down, or even taking out a genuine policy and cancelling soon after to claim a refund of the victim’s money.

Det Chief Insp Lee Morton, head of Kent and Essex’s Serious Economic Crime Unit, said: “There are more severe consequences to the scam than just losing your hard earned money.

“By not having a valid car insurance, you could get points on your driving licence, your car seized and even destroyed, and you may receive a fixed penalty notice or be liable for claim costs following an accident.

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“Scammers will target victims through social media, they may place adverts in newspapers or could cold call you. In some instances, the suspects have been recommended by friends and family who are unaware they have fallen for the scam.

“By taking some simple steps you can avoid becoming a victim of ghost broking.”

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As part of a new #SteerClearOfFraud campign, launched by Essex police and partners at Action Fraud and City of London Police, drivers are being issued the following advice:

• Remember, if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is

• Suspects may 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 suspects using only mobile phone, phone apps or email as a way of contact

• 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

• You can also contact the insurance company directly to verify the broker’s details and you can check to see if your car is legitimately insured on the Motor Insurance Database.

People who have fallen victim to the scame are asked to call Essex Police on 101, report it online or provide information anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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