’Targeting education towards young people is all about social media,’ says head of counter fraud

In the ongoing battle against ghost broking, social media presents both the origin of much of the risk and also a potential vector for countering its dangers. 

That was according to experts at last month’s Fraud Charter roundtable (21 March 2024) – hosted by Insurance Times and sponsored by law firm Carpenters Group. 

James Burge, head of counter fraud at Allianz, explained: ”Targeting education towards young people is all about social media, which is where they end seeing what ghost brokers advertise and their mates getting insurance that way.”

Ghost broking refers to a sort of crime where individuals or organised criminal gangs sell forged or invalid insurance policies to consumers for profit, leaving those consumers unprotected or not fully covered.

Burge added: ”One of my sons has just got a car but, other than me speaking to him, there’s been no education aimed at his level [around ghost broking and fraud] – where is the targeted messaging for university and school-aged students that might be missing out?” 

And Fleur Lewis, head of application fraud at Covea Insurance, added: ”I gave a talk in a school around fraud education and a few of the pupils came up to me afterwards and said they didn’t understand what fraud actually meant or said they had seen their friends doing that.” 

Education opportunities

While social media presents dangers in terms of ghost broking, it also presents the opportunity to educate customers on the risks of purchasing invalid insurance policies from illegitimate sources. 

For example, Ami North, Tesco Underwriting’s head of personal injury and fraud and chair of the Insurance Fraud Investigators Group, explained: ”Keeping those who need insurance products abreast of fraud and educating them is important and we’ve got to keep the message out there. There have been ad campaigns out there on social media and it’s about keeping those going.” 

And speaking at a previous Fraud Charter event last year, Mike Hallam, Biba’s head of technical services, said: ”Ghost brokers are reliant on social media like WhatsApp [and utilise] an online methodology [to target their victims].

“In terms of educating people that are going to be victims of this, they are going to be the social media types and that’s where education campaigns should be focused.”