A woman who confessed to repeatedly using false no claims bonus documents to maintain what a judge called “the illusion of insurance” for years has avoided jail.
Diana Grec, 31, pleaded guilty to five charges of making or gaining or causing a loss by deception after gardaí discovered she was repeatedly taking out new car insurance policies on the basis of a false no claims bonus, then canceling the policy or having it cancelled. shortly afterwards, but keeping the insurance disc.
Bandon District Court heard the first instance of the practice was as far back as 2015, and it continued until 2020. At that time, policies with Liberty, Allianz, Aviva and Axa were engaged.
Ms Grec, a mother-of-two, said she had engaged other people, understood to be Romanian, in Dublin, and that it was they who sourced the policies using the false document.
Ms Grec had initially pleaded not guilty and representatives of the insurance firms and the Road Safety Authority were in attendance to give evidence, until a late change to guilty plea. Five lesser charges of using a false instrument were then withdrawn by gardaí.
Detective Garda Dave Barrett told Judge Colm Roberts that in 2020 he was contacted by the Road Safety Authority regarding a policy that had been taken out by Ms Grec, of Allen Square in Bandon, the previous December. The court heard the first installment of the policy was paid, at €191.10, but the RSA had noted the no claims bonus was a false document.
In September 2020, gardaí executed a search warrant at Ms Grec’s home and uncovered documents that pointed to similar policies taken out using false no claims bonus certificates.
The first dated back to 2015, and in one instance one policy expired and a new one was taken out just six hours later.
Det Garda Barrett said he met Ms Grec by appointment and spoke with her for four hours across two interviews, during which she said another person — who she did not name — had taken out the policies on her behalf.
She claimed the practice had actually cost her money as while the first installment on a canceled policy was usually reimbursed to her, it wasn’t always the case.
Judge Roberts said: “Effectively this is a scam to give the impression of having insurance without having insurance.”
The court heard Ms Grec had four previous convictions, including two for theft, one for driving with no insurance and one for having counterfeit currency.
Her solicitor, Myra Dinneen, said Ms Grec was embarrassed, ashamed and apologetic. She outlined how Ms Grec had come from Moldova to Ireland with her husband, and they had since divorced.
Ms Dinneen said her client’s life had been “extremely haphazard” and that Ms Grec was in some ways vulnerable, but since 2020 she had not come to Garda attention.
She asked the judge for a probation report but Judge Roberts declined, citing her previous convictions, the fact it was not a one-off offense and the fact she did not make “more fulsome admissions” to gardaí.
He allowed for her guilty plea and youth and gave her sentences of four, five, six, seven and eight months, all suspended, mostly for two years, with Ms Grec to receive Probation Service supervision for the first year, all on her own bond of €250.
“She knew what she was doing”, he said.