It just doesn’t feel right, but it’s too good a deal to pass up.

For some reason, the person who promised you a “great deal” on auto insurance from their posting on Craigslist or Kijiji wants to meet you in a coffee shop.

You give them your money, in cash, and they provide you with what you believe to be a legitimate pink slip or proof of auto insurance.

You get the feeling you will never see them again. And you probably won’t, perhaps until the time you see their face on the news as they are being charged with insurance fraud.

In the meantime, you have lost your cash, you have no insurance coverage, you have driven illegally without insurance, and you could be sued for millions of dollars to cover the costs of injuries to another driver or passenger. And still, you could face potential criminal charges.

Aviva Canada warns consumers about a sharp increase in scams involving fake motor vehicle liability insurance cards, also known as pink slips, being sold online. Some fraud artists have made a business out of using this type of scam as a regular source of income.

It’s important to understand that when you have a counterfeit insurance pink slip, you actually have no insurance whatsoever. That means you will be much more than just empty-handed.

You could be charged with a criminal offence, possibly leading to first-time penalties including a fine of between $5,000 to $25,000, seizure of your vehicle for up to three months (while you pay storage costs), your license suspended for up to one year, and for a second conviction, fines doubled and  potentially a criminal conviction and jail time.

That’s why it is so important to always use a licensed and registered insurance broker or agent to obtain insurance which will ensure that you have legitimate coverage in the case of a loss.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Licensed insurance brokers and agents don’t meet in coffee shops, and they don’t advertise their services from online classifieds. They have legitimate businesses, with offices and their own websites.

At Aviva Canada, we believe that honest customers deserve the lowest premiums available. You shouldn’t be paying higher auto insurance rates to subsidize these fraudsters who cheat the system.

That’s why Aviva Canada takes a zero tolerance approach to fraud. We want to protect our honest customers.

The stakes are high. Across Canada, insurance fraud costs consumers more than $ 1 billion per year. Premium shortfall for insurers related to fraudulent pink slips is substantial and gets passed onto honest consumers as higher premiums.

If you want to pay lower auto insurance premiums, help us expose fraudsters.

Report suspected insurance fraud. Aviva Canada’s Fraud Information Centre is available 24/7 by calling 1-855-332-5255 or emailing anti-fraud_management@avivacanada.com.