Cop, lawyer, nine others charged in Phila. insurance fraud ring
A Philadelphia police officer is one of eleven people being charged with insurance fraud.
Today Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced a lawyer, Philadelphia police officer, seven vehicle damage appraisers, and two autobody repair people worked together to file multiple fraudulent insurance claims.
Williams said the owner and employees of University Collision Centers were damaging vehicles that were brought in, to inflate the value of insurance claims for collision damage. “To date we’ve seized approximately $150,000 in cash and the value of the fraudulent claims likely will go into the millions,” said Williams. “These frauds raise insurance costs to all honest Philadelphians. Many people believe these are victimless crimes–they are not. I know my insurance premiums continue to go up, partly because of fraudulent claims.”Williams said the Police Officer involved allegedly acted as a “wreck chaser” both, while on and off duty, directing car accident victims to University Collision Centers. He allegedly received cash based on a percentage of the ultimate insurance settlement. Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross says it’s difficult for good police officers to hear yet another story of a fellow officer breaking the law.
David Augenbraun said the case started when a body shop employee told an investigator with State Farm Insurance about the fraud, and that body shop employees were using a modified fork-lift to damage the vehicles.
“The paint transfers and damage looked the same on all the cars so they developed this device that allowed them to attach a selection of bumpers to a forklift so they could match the bumper to the supposed collision,” said Augenbraun.The charges are the result of a lengthy undercover investigation by the DA’s Insurance Fraud Unit that utilized electronic surveillance.
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