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Insurance ghost broker who set up 133 false policies sentenced

A 33-year-old courier from Epsom has been sentenced after he admitted to setting up over 100 fraudulent car insurance policies for his unsuspecting ‘customers’ and defrauding his victims and insurance company out of a combined £89,000.

Renan Gomes (24/02/1983) of Adelphi Road, Epsom was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Friday 20 May to 16 months imprisonment (suspended for two years) and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, having previously pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and carrying out a regulated activity (insurance broking) when not an authorised person.

Between November 2013 and March 2015, Gomes set himself up as an unauthorised insurance broker, and took out polices on behalf of his customers who thought they were getting good deals on their car insurance. In fact, Gomes was registering false details to get lower premiums and was leaving his customers completely uncovered.

Through local adverts and word of mouth, Gomes set up 133 fraudulent policies on behalf of his customers – many of whom were from the Portuguese community living in and around the Epsom and Surrey area.

The fraud came to light after Liberty Insurance spotted the high number of policies being set up using the same banks accounts – all of which belonged to Gomes. The details were passed to IFED in February 2015 and detectives quickly linked 79 policies that Gomes had set up with Liberty.

He was arrested at his home address in March 2015 and after further enquiries, officers discovered that Gomes was opening the policies and providing false home addresses or forged no claims certificates to get his clients cheaper premiums than they were entitled to.

Financial enquiries showed that he was pocketing around £70-£100 in fees from his unsuspecting customers for every policy he opened, making around £10,000 in total. Detectives also found 133 payments from his accounts to insurers and losses to Liberty Insurance were estimated to total £79,000.

A confiscation hearing has been set for 1 September and financial enquiries are ongoing by IFED investigators to identify any assets Gomes has derived from his criminal activity with a view to applying for these assets to be confiscated.

Detective Constable Eva Woods, from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, who investigated the case said : “Gomes set himself up as an unauthorised insurance broker and sold policies that were absolutely worthless to people who often didn’t speak English. The warning here is if you get yourself insurance through an unlicensed broker like Gomes, then the likelihood is that you’ll be left without valid cover.

“You could end up having to foot a hefty bill yourself should you have an accident and you could also have your car seized by police if it’s on the road without valid insurance. Anyone looking for cheap car insurance deals from an insurance broker should make sure that broker is authorised with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). ”

Speaking on behalf of Liberty Insurance, Director of Personal Lines Deirdre Ashe said: “We welcome this successful prosecution and recognise the significant efforts made by our Special Investigation Unit, working in collaboration with the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department.

“This sentence should send a clear message; we’re committed to aggressively tackle all forms of insurance fraud and will thoroughly investigate all aspects of policy and claims suspicions; and should you commit fraud it is increasingly likely that you will be caught and prosecuted. Insurance fraud is a serious issue for the industry; we will continue to invest in the prevention and detection of fraud to protect our genuine customers and keep premiums affordable."