Toronto, Ontario — If times weren’t tough enough for the average Canadian and their bank account, recent reports from the CBC are showing that some shady characters in the auto insurance industry are making things even tougher for customers in the Toronto area.
Yasmine Sharaf is one such customer.
Over the past year, the Torontonian mother of three was laid off from her job as a business analyst, her husband’s salary has been cut by 20 percent and now has found herself as one of a number of victims of a scam within a Mississauga, Ont.-based insurance brokerage.
Sharaf had every reason to think she was getting a great deal when she signed up for Intact Auto Insurance through the Aaxel Insurance Brokerage.
An Aaxel employee told Sharaf that she could get a good deal on a policy for her family’s two vehicles through Intact Insurance by paying $6,000 upfront to cover the year’s premiums.
“Everyone tries to get the best premium, the lowest payment, because we all have so many bills to pay,” she said.
She used her entire severance payment to cover the expense, topping it up with funds from a line of credit.
After four months, however, Sharaf was puzzled to discover that her policy with Intact had been cancelled for non-payment.
Naturally, she followed up with Aaxel to find the source of the discrepancy when she learned that she had been a victim of fraud, and that although the broker she dealt with at Aaxel had sold her a genuine policy, he has since been accused of pocketing some of the money she paid.
“They told me that they know there is a fraud that happened, and there are many victims,” said Sharaf.
Former Aaxel employee Daniel Conrado of Brampton, Ont., has been arrested and charged with defrauding members of the public. Peel Police confirm they have heard from 20 victims who say Conrado took their money and left them without proper coverage. The allegations haven’t been proven in court. A lawyer for Conrado declined to comment on how his client will plead to the charges.
The incident left Sharaf without a drivable vehicle for a month due to lack of insurance and caused significant stress on her already limited mobility.
She was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11. Her back shows a deep scar that runs the entire length of her spine and she can’t walk far without pain.
“Can you imagine what is happening to us?” said Sharaf in an email to CBC GoPublic.
“We are stuck home, my husband can’t drive to work, I can’t get groceries—I have had ten spinal surgeries so I can’t carry stuff.”
Intact has since apologized for what has happened and is currently working with customers to both return their lost money, as well as restore their credit ratings which were impacted by non-payment notices.
Sharaf said that the incident has left her having to consider insurance quotes ranging from $10,000-12,000.