Ghost broking. This is a term that you might not have heard of before. However, it is believed that up to 21,000 people have fallen for this car insurance scam in the UK.
According to The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), people should "safeguard their personal financial finances against fraud" in these times of cost-of-living crisis.
This is the result of an investigation by Which? It was discovered that a scam had been used to provide motorists with fraudulent insurance.
According to Action Fraud, 517 victims filed reports last year.
Director at IFB Ben Fletcher said that "young and vulnerable people are continually being targeted online with false car insurance deals."
According to the IFB, insurers reported last year more than 21,000 policies which could have been connected to the scam.
He said, "The cost-of-living crisis has made it more critical for people to protect their personal finances from fraud."
According to Jake Moore, a former criminal officer and cyber security expert Jake Moore, more people searching for lower prices can "add to" the scam.
Ghost brokers are individuals or groups of unlicensed people who pretend to be insurance agents and offer cheap insurance for those in need.
They can operate in many ways, including selling fake paperwork to victims and often selling policies that will be viewed against the vehicle on Motor Insurance Database.
Jake says, "They might advertise through student websites or via WhatsApp and social media."
Jake says that they will cancel your order without you being aware for a few weeks so they can get the money back.
You'll then be without insurance and could be held liable for fraud or face penalties for driving without insurance.
Ghost broking victims who called Action Fraud reported losing an average of PS1,950 per victim in 2021.
What can you do to prevent falling for this scam? Here are Jake's top tips.
He says that people should be wary of brokers who use only their mobile phone or WhatsApp to contact them.
"And you must really stay true to the roots of car insurance. It is possible to fall for a deal that seems too good to be true.
You can check the Financial Conduct authority's site for a list authorised brokers to give you peace of mind.
Stay away from them if they're not authorized.
Contact the broker you've used to "double-check" your car's insurance.
"If you don't have insurance, you will lose a lot more than you saved by using this broker."
You might share a great deal you find on a shopping trip with your friends. You can do the same with car insurance deals.
It is best to be cautious. Is there a reason for something being less than you would expect? What's the reason?
Jake says that "usually someone else points out the scam and they might be first to search online and realize it may be a con."
Jake says that people don't like sharing things on social media because they believe it won't go anywhere.
"But if many people come together and report it, it will be seen by human eyes. They will block these accounts as best they can.
Jake believes that scammers are "very good at tailoring and finding ways to con people."
"The government is really struggling with the sophistication behind these emerging scams. They're, often, one or even two steps behind."
Jake, who has been investigating these cyber crimes for cyber police, says that "it's becoming more difficult every day."
It all comes back to education, making people aware that this happens. It is easy to talk about it and make people safer.
Are you a victim of a fraud? You can get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
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