Ghost broker jailed for UKs biggest fake car insurance scam

A ‘ghost broker’ has today (Monday 28 October 2013) been jailed for what is believed to be the UK’s biggest fake car insurance scam, following an extensive investigation by the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).

Danyal Buckharee created four websites offering ‘cheap’ car insurance – Aston Midshires Insurance, Astuto Insurance, Car Insurance Warehouse and First Car Direct Insurance – and used paid-for advertising to ensure his online enterprises appeared at the top of internet searches.

Between May 2011 and April 2012, he used the websites to dupe 600 drivers into buying worthless policies over the telephone. Many of the victims were young people insuring their first car. Some only realised they had been conned when they had their car seized by police for having no insurance.

Also jailed today was his criminal associate, Giovanni Recchia, who helped Buckharee run the First Car Direct Insurance website.

Danyal Buckharee jailed for three years

Buckharee personally pocketed more than £550,000 from the scam, spending most of the money on his mistress and in casinos.

DC Patrick Einsmann, who led IFED’s investigation, said: “Buckharee executed the UK’s biggest ghost broking scam, making half a million pounds and leaving 600 people oblivious to the fact they were driving on our roads uninsured.

Buckharee was pulling all the strings, using a collection of sham websites to hawk his fraudulent policies to drivers across the country, frittering away the cash on gambling and girls.

“Unfortunately for him, a forensic IFED investigation has put these pleasures beyond his reach with him behind bars.”

Aston Midshires Insurance first came to the attention of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) in late 2011 when the bureau began receiving complaints from drivers who had been stopped by police for driving without insurance.

The MIB passed the complaints onto the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) for further examination. When IFED launched in January 2012, the complaints were handed to the new City of London Police unit.

IFED detectives swiftly identified links between Aston Midshires Insurance and two other websites – Astuto Insurance and Car Insurance Warehouse.

Detectives traced the victims’ money to a series of accounts opened at bank branches in south west London and Lincolnshire. This led to the arrest of a man called Mohamed Saleh.

Further enquiries revealed that the victims’ money was withdrawn from those bank accounts in large quantities via cash points in south west London.

First Car Direct Insurance website set up by Buckharee to sell fake car insurance

A myriad of telephone numbers belonging to pay-as-you-go mobile phones were used by Buckharee, one of which led IFED to a riverside penthouse in the Imperial Wharf area of London in April 2012, where detectives arrested his mistress.

From there, they tracked Buckharee to a riverside apartment in Wandsworth, London, where he was arrested with Recchia. Detectives found the living room had been turned into an operations centre for another website, First Car Direct Insurance, prompting them to seize laptops, bank cards, mobile phones and insurance documentation including fake insurance certificates.

In the flat a list of fictitious insurance sales staff was found. An audio recording of office noise was also discovered which it is understood Buckharee played while on the telephone to prospective ‘customers’.

The investigation team had the website shut down and the associated bank accounts frozen – which prevented £28,000 being lost by victims.

In February 2013, Buckharee admitted two counts of fraud relating to the Aston Midshires Insurance and First Car Direct Insurance websites and three counts of money laundering in relation to the four websites during an appearance at the Old Bailey. He was remanded in custody until sentencing.

In September, Recchia was found guilty by an Old Bailey jury of one count of fraud by false representation.

The same month, 26-year-old Mohamed Saleh of Silvertree Lane, in Greenford, in London, who was charged with one count of money laundering, was acquitted at the same court.

Earlier today, at the Old Bailey, the following sentences were handed down:

  • Buckharee, aged 42, of Coalecroft Road, in Putney in London = three years in prison to be served consecutively to a four-and-a-half year jail term he is currently serving as a result of being convicted of fraud following a Metropolitan Police Service investigation.

  • Recchia, aged 46, of Galway Crescent, in Retford in Nottinghamshire = 12 months in prison.

DCI Dave Wood, Head of IFED, said: “Crime gangs are increasingly using the internet to deliver their insurance scams directly into our homes.

The office where Danyal Buckharee executed his First Car Direct Insurance fraud

“These gangs are ruthless in the pursuit of financial gain so it is vital that drivers shopping online for car insurance question what they see offered on a website to ensure they get a real deal.

“Consumer diligence, coupled with enforcement action being taken by IFED, is the best way to confront this threat now and in the future.”

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