Fake insurance being sold online by a gang of scammers
Fake insurance being sold online by scammers
MILAN – In the provinces of Caserta, Naples and Isernia, following investigations directed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, the soldiers of the Provincial Carabinieri Command of Milan, assisted in the executive phase by those of the territorially competent Provincial Commands, executed two precautionary orders issued by the investigating judge of the Court of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, against 16 Italian people, held in various capacities responsible for criminal conspiracy aimed at committing an indeterminate number of crimes, attributable to aggravated fraud, self-laundering , fraudulent transfer of values, abusive exercise of insurance business and insurance brokerage and use of counterfeit trademarks and signs.
During the operational phases, 14 house search decrees were also implemented; a preventive seizure decree of two slot and betting rooms, seventeen car resale companies (at least ten of which have no physical headquarters), a clothing trading company, a clothing store, various properties located in the provinces of Caserta and Isernia, a motorboat, several cars, as well as numerous financial reports; a seizure order of nine internet sites still active.
The investigative activities began in 2017. The Carabinieri Investigative Unit of Milan – in the face of a considerable and constant number of complaints presented by the major insurance groups for the marketing of false RCA insurance policies – has started an in-depth activity of analysis that photographed the particular extent and alarming spread of the criminal phenomenon reported. The investigation launched with the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office in January 2018 was transferred – by territorial jurisdiction – to the Santa Maria Capua Vetere Public Prosecutor’s Office, engaging in another investigative activity. After two years of detailed investigations, conducted through wiretapping, observation, control and shadowing activities, analysis of telephone records, accurate asset checks, all supported, then, by the statements made by some people informed on the facts, the presence of a particularly structured criminal association operating, at least since 2012, mainly in the municipalities of Cancello and Arnone, Castel Volturno and Villa Literno. A group dedicated to counterfeiting and marketing, through several dozen websites of fake insurance intermediaries, of temporary, semi-annual and annual RCA insurance policies.
The proceeds of the fraud offenses were subsequently reinvested (hindering the identification of their criminal origin) through the preparation and implementation of an articulated mechanism which consisted in passing the money accumulated as consideration for the fake RCA insurance contracts, on different cards postpay in the name of a nominee (at least 280 were identified during the investigation). Most of the money remained in the pocket at the top, while the rest were redistributed among the associates. The bosses then reinvested the illicit money through the formation or financing of a series of companies with fictitious owners. Income that was around 5 thousand up to 10 thousand euros per day.
In the course of the investigations, at least 78 websites were identified – and obscured by the Carabinieri of the Milan Investigation Unit – compared to a platform that is believed to be much wider. The criminal structure operated in a perfectly tested way: a telematic platform was created through an accurate anonymization system (sites located on foreign servers, fixed telephone numbers in virtual reality, fictitiously registered sims). Once the website was created, through front names or false identities, priority privileges were acquired by Google to make the links attributable to the association immediately visible in the search field. The answering telephone operators were organized on two call centers that were periodically located in different locations to avoid any investigations. The job was spread over extended shifts with 9-19 hours (with half an hour of lunch break) from Monday to Friday and 9-13 on Saturdays. As in real call centers, there was the figure of team leaders who had the task of zealously supervising the work activities, in charge of supervising the respect, by the associates, of the working hours and also monitored the “productivity”, in terms of contracts made by the various operators (even in one case, a telephone operator was dismissed on suspicion of low productivity, as he was found positive for the use of cocaine, following the urine test that had been imposed on him by the leaders of the association ).
The first victims of the system are certainly private citizens (sometimes even insurance brokers with offices throughout the peninsula) who daily, by the dozen, fell into this well-studied trap. They realized that they had been victims of the scam almost exclusively in the event of a traffic accident or police control (to give the extent of the diffusion, in one case, one of the many counterfeit insurance groups reported that in a single year they had registered about a thousand policies bearing their own trademark reported as false). Further offended parties are certainly the insurance companies, the brand of which the organization appropriated, generating in the policyholders the belief that they had contracted with important insurance groups, with consequent economic and image damage.
The organization identified, extremely structured and pervasive, has acted undisturbed for years, developing a sense of impunity that has emerged on several occasions from the investigations. The leaders of the organization, two young brothers from Villa Literno, Federico and Dionigi Catena, were known in the country for their very high standard of living, including luxury cars and trips to the casinos in Campione, Lugano and Venice. Together with their two main collaborators, Salvatore Piccerillo and Antonio Di Dona, they are owners of various companies, operating above all in the sector of the resale of cars, sometimes stolen or set up with stolen pieces, as well as two slot rooms, a clothing store and various land: assets that were the vehicle for the reuse of the accumulated illicit sums and that have been subject to seizure, together with a large number of assets
LIST OF THE INTERNET SITES OF THE FAKE INSURANCE AGENCIES IDENTIFIED DURING THE INVESTIGATIONS:
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