’This crime is incredibly serious as it leaves motorists unknowingly uninsured,’ says director of financial crime

Police have caught a ghost broker who caused a “huge amount of anxiety and stress” by offering fraudulent motor insurance policies to Sudanese nationals living in the UK.

Hafiz Mohammad sold policies to unsuspecting members of the Sudanese community in the north of England, many of whom did not speak English as their first language.

Six of the policyholders each paid the 30-year-old a fee of between £120 and £180 to arrange insurance, while a seventh gave him £1,016.

They were unaware that Mohammad would then set up the policies using false information to reduce the premiums, leaving them without valid insurance.

“This has caused a huge amount of anxiety and stress over the last four years,” one victim said in a personal statement.

“I have never been in trouble with the police and this again has had a negative impact on my health through worry and stress.

“As a result of what he has done to me, I do not drive, which has stopped me conducting activities that I participated in.”

Mohammad, of Polygon Street, Manchester, pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court on 14 December 2023 to eight counts of fraud by false representation.

Detective constable Deborah O’Loughlin-Whitby, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (Ifed), said: “Moving to a new country can be daunting, particularly when it comes to practicalities like setting up car insurance.

“Mohammad’s victims thought that they had found a legitimate broker. In reality, he was out to make a quick buck at their expense and left them without legitimate insurance.

“This can end up costing victims more in the long run in the form of a fine, points on their license, their car being seized and having to cover the cost of a new, valid policy.”

The case

The case was referred to Ifed in August 2019 by LV= General Insurance, whose fraud team identified six motor insurance policies that it suspected had been taken out using false information.

This included using an older named driver, changing the details of the insured vehicle and lowering the mileage – this was all unknown to the victims.

Enquiries with the Insurance Fraud Bureau revealed that a second insurer – Esure – had also identified multiple policies that had been taken out from Mohammad’s residence.

This led to four further policies, which were taken out from the same IP address, being identified at LV=.

Ifed officers and the LV= fraud team linked Mohammad to a total of 13 fraudulent policies that were taken out at LV= from December 2018 to February 2020.

Mohammad was arrested on 2 July 2020, with a laptop and two mobile phones being seized during a search warrant at his home address.

During his police interview, Mohammad answered “no comment” to all questions asked.

He was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, on 15 January 2024.

Mohammad must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work, a 15 day rehabilitation activity requirement and pay victim compensation.

Ben Fletcher, director of financial crime at LV= General Insurance, said: “We’re working hard to proactively detect and disrupt the issue of ghost broking to help protect victims and innocent motorists.

”This crime is incredibly serious as it leaves motorists unknowingly uninsured and takes advantage of vulnerable people who think they’re doing the right thing.”