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Young people warned over ‘ghost broking’ car insurance scams

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Young people are most at risk of falling victim to ‘ghost broking’ car insurance scams, according to the City of London Police.

Ghost brokers are fraudsters who target cash-strapped drivers with fake car insurance often via social media.

Latest figures from Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime centre, reveal 17–29-year-olds remain the most likely age group to fall victim to this type of scam.

While the number of ghost broking reports fell by nearly a quarter year-on-year between January and August, more than a third (34 per cent) came from 17–29-year-olds.

Male drivers are mostly likely to tricked by ghost brokers. They accounted for more than half (61 per cent) of reports during the six-month period.

Of the reports made by 17–29-year-olds, more than half (62 per cent) were from men.

Victims have lost £786,700 in total to ghost brokers so far this year, with the average victim losing around £2,250.

Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels, head of the city of London Police’s insurance fraud enforcement department (IFED), said: “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.

“Whilst 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.”

Ghost brokers typically scam victims by forging insurance documents, falsifying their details to bring the price down, or by taking out a genuine policy for them but cancelling it soon after.

Most victims do not realise that they do not have genuine cover until they are stopped by police or try to make a claim.

Ghost brokers often advertise on student websites or money-saving forums, university notice boards and marketplace websites such as Gumtree.

They may also try to sell insurance policies through adverts in pubs, clubs or bars, newsagents and car repair shops.

Students are advised to be wary of brokers using only mobile phone or email as a way of contact. Ghost brokers have been reported using messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook. Fraudsters do not want to be traced after they have taken money from their victims.

If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

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