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insurance scam Gardai raid Kildare property in crackdown on 'ghost brokers'

A high-end car, a number of phones, driving licences and electronic devices were seized.

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(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Gardai seized a high-end car, a number of phones, driving licences and electronic devices when they raided a property yesterday as part of a ghost broker investigation.

The target of the raid was an eastern European national living in Leixlip, Co Kildare, but no arrests were made on Monday.

The property was searched as part of an ongoing operation by the gardai’s Special Investigation Unit attached to DMR Roads Policing unit which has already led to a number of arrests.

A ‘ghost broker’ is a fake motor insurance broker who is involved in selling invalid insurance cover.

Ghost brokers are engaged in a fraud where they use false information to sell insurance policies that are not valid.

Policies are bought from legitimate insurance companies using false information and then changed before being sold on to customers.

The broker bandits also create fake policy documents designed to look like they have been issued by legitimate insurance companies.

Proposal forms are being put through a third party before submission to a legitimate insurance company

Last month, it emerged that large numbers of drivers said they have been approached by fraudulent 'ghost brokers' despite many people saying they are not aware of ghost broking.

A survey commissioned by Liberty Insurance showed that seven in ten motor insurance customers in Ireland are unaware of ghost broking.

A third have not taken steps to verify their insurance broker is regulated. But 43pc have Googled the broker, while one third visited the Brokers Ireland website to verify that the broker was regulated.

Almost four in ten of those who are aware of the practice have been approached by fraudulent ghost brokers, the survey carried out by Core Research found.

Last November, a ‘ghost broker’ who sold fraudulent insurance policies to innocent motorists is the first person to be convicted for such an offence in the history of the State.

Slovakian national Martin Hanudel (27) with an address Athlumney, Co Meath, was given an eight month jail sentence at Trim Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty to 12 charges of fraud under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act in relation to the sale of the fraudulent motor insurance policies, worth about €11,000.

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He charged each person a fee of €500 and then obtained policies through underwriters after giving false information.

He gave incorrect details regarding no claims bonuses and then sold the policies to foreign nationals from Romania and Slovakia.

In February of last year, gardai said that more than 600 insurance policies were in the process of being cancelled under the Garda operation, codenamed PUCA.

Gardai 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.

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