Court confiscates £650,000 from ‘ghost broker’

Insurance Age reports that the Old Bailey has ordered £658,460.84 to be confiscated from a ‘ghost broker’ currently imprisoned for masterminding what is believed to be the UK’s biggest fake car insurance scam.

Danyal Buckharee, aged 44, must repay the confiscated amount as compensation to his victims within six months or face five more years behind bars.

The action came after the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) applied to the court in 2013 to recover the profits of his crimes after its investigation saw him jailed for three years. This was on top of four-and-a-half years given for a separate fraud investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service.

IFED said that Buckharee duped 600 drivers, including young people insuring their first car, into buying worthless car insurance between May 2011 and April 2012, pocketing £658,460.84 which IFED said he spent on his mistress and in casinos.

He 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 search engines.

City of London Police financial investigator, Simon Styles, who led IFED’s confiscation action, said, ‘Buckharee went to great lengths to sell his bogus car insurance, creating a series of sham websites to tempt drivers across the country.

‘He left them unwittingly on the roads without valid cover, exposing them to massive risks including having to pick up the bill for any damage or injuries they caused in a crash, getting their vehicle seized by police, fines, penalties and a criminal record.’

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.

In October 2013, Buckharee was sentenced to three years in prison to be served consecutively with a four-and-a-half year jail term given as a result of being convicted of fraud following a separate investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service.

Ben Fletcher, Director of the IFB, said, ‘This was a calculated crime which left hundreds of people severely out of pocket and unwittingly exposed to the dangers of driving without insurance.

‘Unfortunately, the activities of Danyal Buckharee are not an isolated incident as the IFB is now managing 24 cross-industry ‘ghost broking’ investigations and is working with insurers and 10 police forces, including the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, to help bring these fraudsters to justice.’

Ashton West, chief executive of MIB, added, ‘The scam first came to light when drivers being stopped by police were claiming to be insured by Aston Midshires – a company unknown to MIB.

‘Through the diligence of MIB’s Police Helpline and investigations by the Bureau a suspected ghost broker at work was revealed, which was immediately reported to the Insurance Fraud Bureau and Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department.’

He continued, ‘Exposing this scam and securing prison sentences for the criminals behind it highlights the industry’s determination to tackle fraud from all angles. But motorists also need to protect themselves from ghost broking by being wary of deals that seem too good to be true.’