DOUBLE TROUBLE: ‘Ghost broking’ duo caught selling fraudulent insurance policies to young people on social media
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Two men have pleaded guilty for fraudulently selling motor insurance policies via social media to young people and pocketing over £4000, which will be paid back to victims as compensation.
Connor Winslow, 25, and Kreston Edghill, 21, established themselves on social media as insurance brokers feigning to have inside links to some of the UK’s biggest insurers and offering tantalising deals to youngsters in exchange for ‘administrative’ fees ranging from £50 to £400. The pair operated by entering invalid details into an insurance aggregator website, knowing that changes to key details, such as occupation or age, would drastically reduce the price of the premium; this is a scam known as ‘ghost broking’.
Connor Winslow, 25, of Bracken Road, Chinnor, Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to one count of carrying on a regulated activity when not an authorised person and one offence of Fraud by False Representation on Thursday 18 March 2021 at Luton Magistrates Court. Kreston Edghill, 21, of Stevenson Walk, Wootton, Bedford, pleaded guilty to one count of carrying on a regulated activity when not an authorised person.
Detective Constable Kevin Carter from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said:
“Unfortunately, young people are the main target of ‘ghost brokers’, as these fraudsters know that they can play on their victim’s inexperience and the fact premiums are higher for younger drivers. It’s shocking to see two young men taking advantage of their peers for an issue which will no doubt also affect them – as demonstrated by the fact that Winslow tried to reduce the price of his own car insurance by lying about personal details.
“The offer of a cheap deal has ended up costing victims in this case much more, with one young person losing nearly £1,500. If an offer sounds too-good-to-be-true, then it probably is.”
Winslow and Edghill repeatedly adopted the same method to deceive their victims. After initial contact had been made, the fraudsters would send over multiple quotes, and once the victim had accepted one of the quotes, they would be asked to transfer an admin fee in order to gain access to the deal on offer. The victim would then receive a link to an insurance comparison website, through which they could set up the policy. Unbeknownst to the victim, the quote they had received used false details in order to reduce the price, making the policy invalid.
The timeline of the fraudulent activity indicates that Winslow first set up a policy for himself with dishonest information before branching out to offer this ‘service’ to others. In November 2017, Winslow took out a policy with Hastings Direct for a BMW 1180 M Sport. Winslow provided false information, stating that he was married and that his father, who was listed as a named driver, was an airline pilot. Both details were found to be untrue and were evidently used to reduce the cost of the premium.
Shortly after setting up his own fraudulent policy, Winslow began offering ‘broking’ services via social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook. As well as advertising these services on social media, Winslow also used word-of-mouth communication for referrals, with a number of victims being directed by friends or acquaintances. The contact number listed on social media was the same as that which Winslow used to set up his own fraudulent policy with Hastings Direct.
After Hastings Direct fraud defences identified this unusual activity and referred the case to IFED, checks were run on Winslow’s bank accounts, revealing multiple transfers under the reference ‘insurance’, with the amounts corresponding to the admin fees provided in the victims statements to police. One account also showed deposits of nearly £50,000 over the course of a year, despite Winslow being unemployed during this period.
The financial investigation undertaken by IFED also established a link between Winslow and Edghill, with evidence indicating that large sums of money were transferred from the former to the latter.
IFED officers arrested both Winslow and Edghill in 2019.
Matthew Stevens, Director of Anti-Fraud at Hastings Direct, said:
“This case re-enforces the threat of ghost broking fraud and its impact on innocent people. Hastings Direct continually invests in technology and capability to detect and tackle fraud of any kind and will continue to work closely with law enforcement to bring fraudsters to justice.”