Toronto, ON (Sept. 13, 2013) – 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 is releasing 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.
“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; and eight provincial charges of Sell, Give, Distribute Insurance Card.
On September 10, 2013, Toronto Police Service officers arrested Mr. Solak outside of his Edmonton home. The arrest was possible after Aviva Canada worked with the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Crown Attorney’s office to uncover sufficient evidence for a Canada-wide warrant. 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 Mr. 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 cheques and provided false motor vehicle liability insurance cards.
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has also issued a public warning about Mr. 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 offence, 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 offence.
What happens to those who have false insurance and who are involved in an auto collision?
Those having a false insurance card (meaning no valid insurance) and are involved in a vehicle collision:
- Will not be covered for any collision damage to their vehicle.
- Are not eligible to sue anyone else for damage to their vehicle or bodily injury, even if they weren’t at fault.
- Can be sued for damage to the other vehicles involved in, or for bodily injuries that resulted from, the accident and will be held personally liable leading to wage garnishing or property liens.
It is also important to note that if a family member or friend is driving the falsely insured vehicle, they can be charged and/or sued for damages.
What can consumers do to protect themselves?
- Be mindful that if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.
- 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, report it, 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 at 1-800-222-TIPS.
What Aviva Canada is doing to fight fraud
Building on already strong capabilities, Aviva Canada has stepped up its tough approach to tackling fraud with more dedicated resources and an investment in technology that aims to identify fraud and even anticipate the potential for fraud before it happens. With an industry-leading anti-fraud team, plus solid public sector and industry collaboration, Aviva Canada is well positioned to combat fraud better than ever before. The impact of Insurance fraud in Canada is estimated at over $1.6 billion dollars annually.
About Aviva Canada
Aviva Canada is one of the leading Property and Casualty insurance groups in Canada providing home, automobile, recreational vehicle, group and business insurance to more than three million customers. A wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, the company has more than 3,000 employees, 25 locations and 1,700 independent broker partners. Aviva Canada and its employees invest in positive change including through the Aviva Community Fund and Eva’s Initiatives, its partner in Aviva’s global Street to School program to help homeless and other at-risk youth reach their potential. For more information visit AvivaCanada.com.
SOURCE: Aviva Canada Inc.