In an earlier post I reported that an Air Force veteran was scammed when purchasing a motorhome off Craiglist.
Aviva Canada, one of the country’s leading providers of home, auto, recreational vehicle, group, and business insurance, is warning Canadians about the risks of insurance deals that seem too good to be true.
In cooperation with the Toronto Police Service, Aviva Canada released details of a recent insurance scam that has left individuals without auto insurance coverage and cost them hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars, according to an Aviva Canada news release.
“With the anonymity and ease of classified websites, we have seen a sharp increase in the amount of fake motor vehicle liability insurance cards, also known as pink slips, being sold online,” said James Russell, Chief Underwriting Officer for Aviva Canada.
“Consumers need to be aware that some individuals have made a business out of defrauding others and use this type of scam as a regular source of income.”
Serafattin (George) Solak has been charged with:
- One count of Fraud over $5,000
- 13 counts of Fraud under $5,000
- Eight counts of Uttering a Forged Document
- Four counts of Misleading Receipts
- Eight provincial charges of Sell, Give, Distribute Insurance Card
On September 10, 2013, Toronto Police Service officers arrested Solak outside of his Edmonton home.
He was returned to Toronto on September 11, 2013, and was taken directly to 31 Division. He is currently in custody awaiting a court appearance in a Toronto courtroom. During the arrest, police officers seized fraudulent Aviva Canada motor vehicle insurance liability cards.
“We want to emphasize that the charges against Mr. Solak are just one instance. Other would-be criminals are trying this over and over again,” continued Russell.
“What people are buying from these individuals is not insurance—it’s just a piece of paper that comes with a big risk. Any driver using a fake insurance slip instead of securing valid coverage could potentially be sued for millions of dollars.”
The charges were laid by Toronto Police Service after Aviva Canada provided evidence of fraudulent activity. It is alleged the Solak advertised insurance for sale on various online classified websites including Kijiji and Craigslist. It is also alleged that he met with a number of potential victims in person, accepted cash or checks and provided false motor vehicle liability insurance cards.
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has also issued a public warning about Solak and his connection to a fake insurance scam.
What happens to those who are caught with false insurance? Having false insurance means a driver has no insurance at all, which is illegal. If it is discovered that a driver has a false insurance card, they could be charged with a criminal offense, possibly leading to first-time penalties of:
- A minimum $5,000 fine, up to a maximum of $25,000
- Vehicle seizure for up to three months, with the owner responsible for all storage costs
- Driver’s license suspension for up to one year
- For a second conviction the minimum fines double, and there is the possibility of being charged with a criminal offense.
What can consumers do to protect themselves?
Never purchase insurance with cash.
Call the company listed on the policy to ensure it is valid.
Never meet in a public place with someone that claims to be an insurance representative. Insurance brokers or insurers will have branded websites and/or an office; they will not likely ask to make a transaction in a public place.
Remember that even if the motor vehicle liability insurance card looks legitimate, it could still be a fake. Report it. If enough consumers alert authorities of this activity, fraudsters will be easier to capture and convict.
Call the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s TIPS line at 1-877-IBC-TIPS, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-5TIP-NOW, or Crime Stoppers (1-800-222-TIPS).
Travel safely…and stay away from road-gaiters and orange barrels.