‘Ghost’ insurance broker is given community service

Garda said offence at lower end of scale compared to other such operations

A man who acted as a “ghost broker” for his friends and acquaintances, giving false information to car insurance companies to get cheaper policies, has been ordered to carry out community service.

Vasile Braileanu (43) was on Friday ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service in lieu of a two year prison term for defrauding a number of motor insurance companies of about €13,000.

Braileanu, of Adamstown Avenue, Lucan, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to 15 fraud-related offences, including dishonestly inducing insurance companies to give policies at a reduced premiums and making, using and possessing false documents such as no claims discount and experienced driver certificates.

Braileanu committed the ghost broker offences between April 2015 and November 2017, when his house was searched by gardaí­ who had been tipped off to his operation.

He also admitted to being the customer of a ghost broker in September 2013, when he got a cheaper premium and then became interested in doing it himself, the court heard.

Garda George Thurlow told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that when interviewed, Braileanu admitted to brokering 30 policies for friends and acquaintances using fake documents. However, investigating gardaí only found evidence of 10 policies that had been brokered.

Braileanu said he received about €400-€600 in payment for brokering each policy. In one example, he got a motor insurance premium from Allianz Insurance down from €1292 to €692 by submitting false documents, the court heard.

Gardaí searching his home found a “ghost brokering kit” and templates for documents such as “no claims discount” and “experienced driver” certificates.

Garda Thurlow agreed with defence counsel that Braileanu was at the lower end of the scale compared to other ghost brokering operations he had investigated. “It was a small operation and an amateur operation,” he said.

Braileanu did not advertise his business on social media but operated by “word of mouth”, the court heard.

He is originally from Moldova and has a wife and two children. He holds a degree in construction but was working as a bus driver up until the pandemic. He is now on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Sentencing Braileanu, Judge Martin Nolan said he was acting as a “shadow agent” to induce insurance companies to issue cheaper insurance policies. “It seems impossible to believe that his customers didn’t know that something suspicious was happening,” he said.

The court heard that the fraudulent insurance polices were cancelled once they were discovered, but the customers who took them out were treated as injured parties.

Judge Nolan accepted it was an amateur operation and he ordered Braileanu to carry out 240 hours of community service. He adjourned the case to July 7th, to ascertain that Braileanu is deemed suitable.