Insurance broker paid herself commission on fictitious policies

Clare Dooley
Clare Dooley

A Meath insurance broker who took out 38 fictitious policies in order to be paid commission totalling €109,000 will be sentenced in October.

Clare Dooley (43), who later founded Moneybloom which helped restructure loans for those in mortgage distress, committed the offences following a failed business venture in 2011.

The insurance company has since been repaid the money and nobody is at a loss.

Dooley of Hillcrest, Julianstown pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to ten counts of making and using false declaration forms at New Ireland Assurance plc, Dawson Street, Dublin and in the State between November 23, 2010 and September 27, 2011. She has no previous convictions.

Judge Desmond Hogan adjourned sentencing to October 8 next to allow him consider a sentence.

Garda Niamh Seberry told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that a complaint was made to gardaí in February 2013 by New Ireland Assurance regarding 38 fictitious policies using false information that had been taken out by Dooley.

Dooley had a financial services company and was working as an intermediary between clients and the insurance company. She sent in the application forms and received commission on the policies.

The company began an investigation in 2011 after noticing a huge rise in the commission paid to Dooley in a short period of time.

Dooley was arrested and interviewed after garda searches at her home and business unearthed relevant documentation. The people who were named in the polices were unaware they had been taken out and were not at a loss.

Defence counsel, Lorcan Staines BL, submitted that the motive had not been permanent theft of the money and she would ultimately not have profited from the offences.

He outlined that the amount of commission paid to brokers upfront was equal to two years monthly premium payments on the policy. If the policy was cancelled within two years there was a clawback of the commission payment.

Mr Staines said she set up the false policies and was paying the premiums to keep them live. He said although she had been paid the commission upfront she would have had to keep paying the monthly premiums until they equalled the payment to avoid the clawback policy.

He said that Dooley had come to Dublin from Scotland in the 1990's where she did office work before moving into the financial industry. He said she had never been out of work since the age of 14.

He said she and her husband were in severe financial difficulties in 2011 following a failed business venture.

Dooley, heavily pregnant with her second child, found herself the sole breadwinner after her husband fell into a depression. They were not entitled to social welfare as both were self employed.

Mr Staines handed in a psychological report and number of testimonials. The report outlined Dooley felt severe guilt and remorse for what she had done and that “pride” had prevented her asking for help.

He said the adverse publicity would make it difficult for her to find work in the financial sector.

Mr Staines said following previous reporting of the case there had been “pretty heavy comments” made by members of the public which wrongly inferred she had been stealing from those she had been seeking to help which was not the case.

He asked the court to take into account her guilty pleas, the total destruction of her standing in the community and the effect on her family. He submitted that she had no previous convictions and evidence of overall good character.