A man from Cambridge has been jailed for offering fraudulent insurance broking services to Polish nationals living in the UK.
Marek Complak, 51, of Cambridge, set up false or invalid car insurance policies by posing as a broker for various well-known insurers, also known as ‘ghost broking’.
Complak used his knowledge of the Polish language to target UK-based Polish communities, taking advantage of the fact that English was a second language for many of his targets. The ‘ghost broker’ also employed other agents to find more customers by falsely portraying his business as legitimate and providing referral fees.
Complak was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment for money laundering on Friday 8 October 2021 at Cambridge Crown Court following a four-week trial. A statutory surcharge was applied and proceedings will now commence under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover the funds which were illegally obtained.
Detective Constable Peter Gartland, who led the investigation for this case as part of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:
“Complak has proven himself to be a calculated and dishonest individual. Moving to a new country can be daunting, particularly when it comes to practicalities like setting up car insurance. Complak’s victims thought that they had found a legitimate broker who could navigate them through the process and help to overcome the language barrier. In reality, they had stumbled upon nothing more than a crook.
“Many of Complak’s victims were stopped by the police and had their vehicles seized – no doubt an extremely stressful experience. Hopefully this outcome today will provide some form of retribution for what they have been put through.”
The case initially took shape from a series of seemingly unlinked reports to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, which is hosted by the City of London Police. While these reports appeared to be unconnected on the surface, careful analysis soon revealed links in the form of common telephone numbers, email addresses and bank account details. IFB investigators worked with the IFED and the insurance industry to help identify Complak.
Comparison of the reports additionally found that the alias ‘David Brooker’ had been used by the ‘ghost broker’ when communicating with both ‘customers’ and agents.
A number of the reports to Action Fraud were made by agents that Complak had employed to find further ‘customers’ in other parts of the country. One agent stated that she had first come across Complak when he set up her car insurance, and that he then went on to offer her the opportunity to earn money by referring people from her local area, Liverpool, to his sham business. The woman revealed that she was paid over £600 for 14 referrals. Shortly after, the agent was contacted by a number of these people who were facing issues with their policies, including two who had been stopped by the police and had their cars seized. Complak also advertised his fraudulent services through online adverts on Polish websites, social media, online forums and websites he had set up.
Complak employed the same method to set up the fraudulent policies and nearly always communicated solely via email or text message. When approached by a ‘customer’, he would ask for details of their driving record and then provide a quote for the policy. If the quote was accepted, Complak would send over his bank account details and would provide the ‘customer’ with what they believed to be a genuine insurance certificate.
IFED officers arrested Complak and conducted a search of his home in Cambridge. A laptop seized from the property held numerous insurance-related documents, all of which were later reviewed and confirmed to be fraudulent.
Further enquiries found that Complak had actually insured the vehicles in some cases, but then quickly cancelled the policy without informing the customers.
When interviewed by IFED, Complak produced a written statement denying all offences and claiming that he was working as an agent for an insurance company.
He answered ‘no comment’ to all the questions asked by officers.
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the IFB, said, “Complak would shamelessly exploit vulnerable community members just so he could make a quick buck through their expense and distress. I’m pleased to say that justice has been served thanks to the collaborative efforts of City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department supported by the IFB and the insurance industry. I hope this serves as a warning to anyone who thinks committing insurance fraud is an acceptable means for making a living – they will not get away with it.”