Motorists in the UK have been warned of a new “ghost broking” crime which could cost drivers a lot of money each.
New police figures found men are particularly likely to fall victim to fraudsters selling fake car insurance.
From January to August 2021, Action Fraud received around 351 reports of “ghost broking”.
People aged 17 to 29 are the most likely age group to report falling victim with cash-strapped students often targeted.
Despite the number of reports dropping by nearly 23% from the same period last year, young people are often victims of this fraud.
More than 34% of reports in the period came from 17 to 29-year-olds.
And just over 61% of these claims were submitted by men.
The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) is reminding young people to remain vigilant.
So far the reported losses to ghost brokers for all age groups total £786,700 this year, with the average victim losing around £2,250.
Often fraudsters offer cheaper insurance premiums, usually by social media or by word of month.
These criminals pose as brokers for well-known companies, claiming they offer legitimate car insurance at a cheaper price.
Insurance documents may be forged or the details may be falsified to artificially bring the price down.
Victims only realise their policy is not genuine when they try to make a claim or are stopped by police.
Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels, head of the City of London Police’s IFED, said: “Many students rely on their cars to travel to and from university, and so may have recently restarted or renewed their insurance after the summer break.
“The high cost of insurance premiums and money often being tight for students unfortunately make this group a prime target for ghost brokers, therefore it is important to check that you have signed up for a legitimate insurance policy.”
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The inspector added: “While the offer of a cheap deal may be enticing, a fraudulent policy will end up costing you more in the long run in the form of a fine, points on your licence, your car being seized and crushed, and covering the cost of a valid policy.”
According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) says it has seen its investigations into “ghost broking” double since 2016.
Now it is urging new drivers to stay alert with victims told to report it to Action Fraud online or on 0300 123 2040.