Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Isabel Hayes

An art teacher who forged hundreds of driving licences and no claims bonus documents for a car insurance “ghost broker” has been jailed for two years.

Elena Oleinik (48) was arrested as part of a garda crackdown on ghost broker policies, whereby a criminal poses as an insurance broker for members of the public before falsifying documents to get a lower cost policy.

From 2014, Oleinik worked as a forger for a ghost broker referred to in court only as ‘Mr A’, as he is due to face trial at a later date.

Oleinik falsified documents for Mr A, changing names on driving licences for foreign nationals and adding years to no claims bonus documents. She received about €30 per false document and is estimated to have made about 700 documents for him, the court heard.

Oleinik, of Berryfield, Finnstown Priory, Lucan, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to six sample counts of making a false instrument at an unknown location on an unknown date before September 9th, 2018. She has no previous convictions.

Thousands of policies

Detective Garda George Thurlow told Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, that gardaí uncovered about 2,000 policies within one insurance company alleged to have been ghost brokered by Mr A.

While investigating him, gardaí discovered he had paid regular sums of money to Oleinik’s bank account between March 2017 and September 2018. The money amounted to €7,600.

When arrested, Oleinik admitted she had been working for Mr A from as far back as 2014 and that he also paid her in cash.

Det Gda Thurlow said that while gardaí could only say for certain that Oleinik made about 250 documents for the ghost broker based on her bank account history, it is estimated she could have forged about 700 dating back to 2014.

Mitigation

Sentencing Oleinik at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan accepted there was “excellent mitigation” in the case, including Oleinik’s cooperation with gardaí, early guilty pleas and lack of previous convictions.

But he said it was necessary to jail Oleinik noting she was extremely involved in this criminal enterprise for a number of years. He sentenced her to two years’ imprisonment.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, told the court that Oleinik worked for an organisation that helps immigrants who are newly arrived to the country. She also works as an art teacher.

Mr McGinn said Oleinik was moved to get involved in the ghost broker business when she saw how foreign nationals were penalised when trying to get car insurance in Ireland. By changing the names on driving licences and editing no claims bonuses, she felt she was helping those who had arrived in the country, the court heard.

This was a misplaced gesture, given that the insurance would be null and void if the ghost broker element was discovered and was part of her “naivety”, defence counsel said.

Mr McGinn said Oleinik, a mother of three adult children who moved to Ireland from Latvia in 2001, was extremely remorseful and unlikely to reoffend. He urged Judge Nolan to hand down as lenient a sentence as possible.

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