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Pair of ghost brokers who supplied fake car insurance to Albanian drug dealers jailed

Both men, who made more than £370,000, conducted their ghost broking operation from a laundrette one of them owned
Albanian drug dealers obtained fake car insurance to facilitate their criminal activity 
The two men's ghost broking activity also included several victims who were left without valid cover

Two men have been sentenced for carrying out a large ghost broking operation, in which they defrauded several motor insurers and supplied fake motor insurance to hundreds of people, including Albanian organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in selling cocaine. 

Following an investigation by the City of London Police’s Major Crime Proactive team and the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) both men pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud insurance companies, while one also pleaded guilty to converting and/or transferring criminal property. At Inner London Crown Court on Thursday (24 May 2018), Raza Mir, 44, of Plashet Grove, East Ham was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison, and Muhammed Asif, 38, of Glenny Road, Barking, was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

The two men’s fraudulent activity first came to light after City of London Police officers arrested several Albanian drug dealers in 2015 and 2016. Material downloaded from the drug dealers’ mobile phones showed Mir’s own number several times.

Early on in the investigation, it was established that Mir was the lead person behind the fraud, and Asif was helping him. 

Supplying fake cover to drug dealers 

The drug dealers were visiting both men at Mir’s laundrette business so that they could get motor insurance for a vehicle in a false name, in order to cover their criminal activity. This meant that if police carried out an insurance check on the vehicle it would show that it was insured, and provided the criminal could confirm their false identity with fraudulent identification documents, suspicions would not be aroused.

Investigations carried out by the Major Crime Proactive team confirmed this, and revealed a number of other Albanian males were attending the laundrette and speaking with Mir and Asif. Several of these men were later arrested and convicted for serious cocaine tracking offences. They were also in possession of fake identification documents.

The team also worked with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) during the investigation. Using Intel supplied by officers, the IFB collaborated with its insurer members and were able to identify over 100 fraudulent policies that were incepted by Mir and Asif. They also revealed thousands of insurance quotes that linked directly to both men. 

Mir and Asif were arrested on 21 February 2017 at the laundrette. 

Extent of ghost broking operation revealed

They carried out a search warrant and seized 263 no claims discount (NCD) letters, of which at least 172 have since been proven to false by the IFB and relevant insurance companies. They also confirmed 74 of these letters had already been sent to insurance companies to incept fraudulent policies. 

Officers also downloaded content from laptops seized at the laundrette, which revealed that the men had access to PDF document editing software to create the false NCD letters.

It was also discovered that Mir and Asif, using fake personal details, were incepting new insurance policies for others people. Some of these people were genuine, unsuspecting victims. 

Financial gain from men’s ghost broking

The bank accounts and credit cards of both men were examined by officers from the Major Crime Proactive team and Financial Investigation Unit (FIU). They discovered several thousands of pounds of outgoing payments to various motor insurance companies, as well as hundreds of thousands of pounds of undeclared cash income – both during the period of their ghost broking activity. 

Over the course of their ghost broking activity, more than £300,000 was deposited into Mir’s account by way of cash and bank transfers, while more than £70,000 was deposited into Asif’s various accounts. 

In an attempt to launder the money gained from their criminal acts, Mir bought a Toyota Rav 4 worth £15,995 and made four large payments towards the mortgage of a property he owned, totalling £89,734. Restraint Orders were obtained to make sure that these financial assets were not dispersed following the arrests.

Confiscation proceedings will now be started under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to recover any criminal benefit gained from this fraudulent activity. 

Detective Constable Lee Johnson, who led the investigation for the City of London Police’s Major Crime Proactive team, said:

“This is a great example of the City of London Police working collaboratively with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), and our other partners in the wider insurance industry, to target serious and organised criminals and deprive them of their ill-gotten gains. 

“Ghost broking is a serious criminal offence, which can have various negative effects, both in terms of facilitating wider crime and the harm it can cause to the general public. 

“These men also left unsuspecting drivers with no valid car insurance and at risk of getting points on their driving licence and being liable for claim costs if they became involved in a traffic accident.

“It was thanks to the City of London Police’s recent successful investigations into Albanian organised crime groups that these men were quickly identified and have now been served justice for their crimes.”

Discussing the case, Jason Potter, IFB’s Head of Investigations commented: 

“Mir and Asif used a seemingly innocuous business to front their fraudulent activities thanks to our collaboration with City of London Police, along with our insurer members, we were able to hang these fraudsters out to dry. 

“This case goes to demonstrate that organised insurance fraud can often be linked to other criminal activity and this behaviour must be stopped. We remain committed to stamping out insurance fraud and hope that today’s sentencing serves as a stark warning to would-be criminals that fraud doesn’t wash with us, that they will get caught and they will get punished.”

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