Ikram Rafique, 31, of South Road, Romford, has been sentenced for his involvement in a fraudulent motor insurance scheme that targeted more than 900 unsuspecting motorists.
Rafique was found guilty of money laundering and acting as an unlicensed broker. He has been given a 24-month imprisonment sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work.
Additionally, his cousin and former co-worker, Mohammad Hamad, 31, of Ashley Avenue, Ilford, was also found guilty of money laundering and received a 15-month suspended sentence, along with 180 hours of unpaid work.
The Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) at the City of London Police conducted the investigation. Detective Constable Chris Kench said: “We know that the rising cost of insurance premiums means people are always looking for a cheap deal, but it is always important to check that you are buying from a legitimate source and that your policy is valid.
“Whilst the offer of a cheap deal may be enticing, a fraudulent policy will end up costing you more in the long run in the form of a fine, points on your licence, your car being seized and crushed than covering the cost of a valid policy.”
Rafique operated as a ghost broker from January 2016 to December 2018. The investigation by IFED found that Rafique manipulated customer details to obtain cheaper quotes and then used the customer’s own bank card details to pay for the policies, telling the victims that a ‘broker fee’ – typically £200 to £300 – had to be paid into the account under the name of Qiuhong Chen.
The Qiuhong Chen received £302,036.71 over a 24-month period. Payments into the account were linked primarily to the purchase of motor insurance policies.
During the investigation, a number of victims provided statements saying that they had paid up to £300 to the Qiuhong Chen bank account, and many stated they had spoken to a man called ‘Mr Ikram’.
In total, 974 transactions of this nature, totaling £208,200, were paid into the account between January 2016 and December 2017, with an additional 311 third-party payments amounting to £73,913.55 also discovered.
The sentencing of Rafique and Hamad serves as a warning to potential fraudsters and a reminder to consumers to exercise caution when dealing with insurance policies from unknown sources.