Former University friends sentenced for ghost broking conspiracy
07 August 2018
Fraudsters from East London sentenced for false insurance policy scam.
The trio were former students who met at Westminster University.
The scam targeted minicab drivers, compromising their livelihoods.
Insurance fraudsters from East London who were involved in an elaborate ghost broking scheme have been sentenced today to 57 months’ suspended sentences and 480 hours’ unpaid work for conspiracy to commit fraud following an investigation involving the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), its insurer members and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
Ajay Haque, 35 of Salisbury Road, London - the mastermind behind the scam, received two years custodial suspended for 21 months as well as a 9 hour curfew in effect for 6 months. Anik Dixit, 34 of Browning Road, London received 20 months custodial suspended for 18 months and 260 hours of unpaid work. Mohammed Nur Ahmed 33 of Walton Road, London received 17 months custodial suspended for 18 months and 220 hours of unpaid work.
The fraudsters, who previously studied at Westminster University, orchestrated an elaborate ghost broking scheme taking profits from their unsuspecting victims by selling them fraudulent insurance policies.
The trio operated under a limited company called AHD Solutions between June 2012 and August 2013 and went to great lengths to seem legitimate, conducting the scam out of a real office and even setting up a website which they used to specifically target minicab drivers. The fraudsters even went so far as to employ someone on work experience at the fraudulent company, who had no knowledge of the scam and later became a key witness in the trial.
As part of the scam, AHD would advertise Hire and Reward policies and then add the minicab vehicle onto a trade policy. This ensured that the cars would not flag up as uninsured to police and other agencies, but still left the minicab uninsured for Hire and Reward. They would also issue seemingly legitimate policy documents. This meant drivers’ vehicles could be seized at any moment and their livelihoods compromised as a result.
In order to appear authentic, AHD Solutions were also using insurer esure’s name on their website. However, esure became aware of this copyright infringement and took legal action to prevent misuse of its brand in April 2013, going on to collaborate with the MPS and IFB in the wider investigation that followed.
Discussing the development of the case, Matt Gilham, Head of Financial Crime at esure commented: “This is an important case as it exposed members of the public to minicab drivers unwittingly working with invalid insurance. As well as taking steps to protect our brand, we felt it vital to collaborate with the police and IFB to tackle the wider fraud and were pleased to provide evidence in this case”.
While esure’s action was enough to stop the fraudsters trading as AHD Solutions, the corrupt trio then went on to set up a second business, Kab Insure, which was registered with fake Director’s details to an address in Leicester. Kab Insure was used to continue the scam, selling fraudulent personal policies to members of the public.
As part of the investigation, IFB were able to link nine trade policies and 14 personal lines policies to the scammers, identifying 65 vehicles which they believed to be private hire vehicles with invalid policies. IFB passed the intelligence on to the MPS who obtained warrants and worked together to raid two addresses in East London where arrests were made.
The defendants were convicted at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 27 March of conspiracy to commit fraud. Ahmed pleaded guilty to the offence at a pre-trial hearing. However, both Haque and Dixit pleaded ‘not guilty’.
Talking about the sentencing, Jason Potter, Head of Investigations at the IFB said: “This is a complex case that demonstrates just how far ghost brokers will go to in order to manipulate the system and make money through deception. The victims of this case were trying to make an honest, law-abiding living and these criminals did not hesitate to take advantage of that.
“This sentencing should serve as a stark warning to anyone that may consider orchestrating an insurance fraud scam. Ghost broking is an issue that we take extremely seriously, we are continuously working with the industry and police to reduce its impact and prevent these fraudsters causing further harm to potential victims. Haque, Dixit and Ahmed will not only have a criminal record for their activity, but through the 480 hours of unpaid work they will be giving something back for the damage they have caused.”
Police Constable Hilary Sizmur, MPS Roads and Transport Policing Command said: “This was an audacious, criminal act, carried out by unscrupulous people whose sole aim was to line their pockets at the expense of their victims.
“We are committed to detecting, disrupting and arresting those involved in crime as demonstrated by our thorough and robust investigation involving several partner agencies, which left no stone unturned in catching these offenders.”
It’s important for honest customers to remember that while a policy may seem legitimate, ghost brokers will go the extra mile to make their business look genuine. As such, it is absolutely essential that you only purchase a policy from a known, reputable source.
You can source a legitimate insurance broker on the BIBA website and can also check that your insurance adviser is listed on the Financial Services Register. Your insurer should also be a member of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
If you think you may have been a victim of a ghost broker, or have information relating to somebody selling fake policies, you can report it to the IFB’s confidential Cheatline either by phoning 0800 422 0421 or online: https://www.insurancefraudbureau.org/cheatline/