Gardaí make another arrest in 'ghost brokers' investigation

More than 600 insurance policies are now in the process of being cancelled under the Garda operation, codenamed PUCA.

Gardaí make another arrest in 'ghost brokers' investigation

Gardaí have conducted another arrest as part of an ongoing investigation into 'ghost brokers' — professional fraudsters selling forged or invalid insurance to unsuspecting motorists.

More than 600 insurance policies are now in the process of being cancelled under the Garda operation, codenamed PUCA.

The ghost brokers offer low premiums to potential customers, often by providing false information to insurance companies, and earning a commission on each sale. When insurance companies uncover false information, sometimes involving stolen credit cards, the insurance is cancelled, leaving the drivers uninsured and at a financial loss.

Garda HQ said that as part of their “ongoing investigation into so-called 'ghost brokers' in the car insurance industry” they arrested a 44-year-old man in west Dublin on Sunday. The man was held at Lucan Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

Gardaí believe the scam artists are preying on the naivety and inexperience of people who are not familiar with the insurance system in Ireland and that foreign nationals, in particular, are being targeted.

Gardaí have advised motorists with any concerns about their insurance not to drive their vehicle and to contact their insurance company directly in order to verify if their policy is valid. In addition, people can check the bona fides of their insurance broker at the Insurance Brokers section of the Central Bank website, centralbank.ie

Gardaí say that more than 600 motor insurance policies are being cancelled by insurers resulting from fraudulently obtained motor insurance policies through ghost brokering activities.

Brokers Ireland, which represents 1,250 brokers, has warned customers to double-check the authenticity of any person or company selling or administering insurance policies.

Last November, Cathie Shannon, director of general insurance at Brokers Ireland told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform that there could be “catastrophic” consequences for uninsured motorists after using the services of one of these ghost brokers.

"If you purchase car insurance from a fraudster you will be driving without insurance, which is a criminal offence,” she said.

She advised people to be very careful purchasing insurance through social media sites and to check any insurance documentation.

Aviva has previously said that it was dealing with up to 1,500 policies that have been taken out fraudulently. The insurer believes that up to 10,000 policies nationally have been taken out by ghost brokers.

These fake brokers forge policy documents and sell them to people, while pretending to work for, or on behalf of, a legitimate insurance company.

In other cases they purchase a genuine policy from a legitimate insurance company, but they change important information about you, such as your age, driving experience, no claims history, etc. in order to bring the price of the policy down. They then sell the policy to you and charge a commission for doing so.

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