Skye residents were expected to be contacted this week in a far reaching investigation launched by detectives from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).
For the island has been identified as one of a number of locations around the UK where addresses are being used by unscrupulous insurance ghost brokers to obtain fraudulent car insurance deals.
Officers will be contacting dozens of residents in Aberdeen, Inverness and the Isles of Skye and Harris as part of ongoing investigations into suspected ghost brokers. Some addresses in these areas are being used by fraudsters on car insurance applications to give their unwitting victims seemingly cheap deals on their car insurance.
Once the false address details are provided and a quote obtained, the ghost brokers will often forge or alter cover letters to show the real address of the victim. These are then sent back to the victim making them think they have valid insurance cover in place, when in fact, they’re left with policies that are not legal or with no insurance at all.
One of the tell-tale signs this is happening is that residents in rural areas may receive letters from insurers that are addressed to people that don’t live there.
A large number of addresses in Scotland have been identified as being used in this way. Officers from IFED are visiting these areas to gather evidence as part of their investigation, but to also warn other residents in the area and advise them what to do if they receive such letters.
Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Little, from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said: “If you’re receiving mail and insurance documents addressed to somebody you don’t know or doesn’t live at your address, then it could be part of a bigger fraud. We want to try and make local people aware that their addresses might be used by fraudsters as part of a ghost broking scam.
“We don’t want people to just ignore these letters and anyone receiving mail like this should call the insurer which is listed on the envelope and ask to be put through to their fraud department.”
Residents are being advised to:
• Carefully check all the letters you’re receiving in the post and to whom they are addressed.
• If you’ve received insurance documents sent to somebody with no connections to your address, then call the insurer they’ve come from and ask to be put through to their fraud department – you will usually be able to identify from the envelope when a letter has come from an insurer.
• Remember, if fraudsters are using your address then it can make it more difficult for you to obtain insurance in the future, so it is in your interest to check all the mail you receive.
If you think that your address is being used by ghost brokers, you can report your concerns to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040.
You can also contact the Insurance Fraud Bureau via its confidential Cheatline on 0800 422 0421 or at www.insurancefraudbureau.org
What is ghost broking?
Ghost broking is where an individual or group illegally sets themselves up to appear as though they’re a genuine insurance broker.
Ghost brokers trick members of the public into thinking they can get cheap insurance deals in return for a fee. But in reality, they leave their victims with insurance policies that are not legal or with no insurance at all.
How the scam works...
Typically, policies are bought from legitimate insurance companies using false information (often false addresses) and then changed before being sold on to victims. Ghost brokers may also create fake policy documents that are designed to look like they’ve been issued by legitimate insurance companies and then sold to victims.
Either way, the victim will be left with a policy that is not worth the paper it’s written on.