Los Angeles - Farmers Insurance Exchange has begun serving civil summons and complaints upon Redding, Calif. auto glass company Onsight Auto Glass and its owner, accusing them of taking part in a scheme designed to defraud Farmers and its policyholders. The civil complaint, which is similar to prior successful lawsuits against auto glass businesses and body shops who submitted false insurance claims, seeks not only damages for the fraud allegedly committed, but seeks injunctive relief, where the courts are asked to order a halt to these deceptive practices.Outlining a highly unusual and aggressive billing scam, the lawsuit details how the alleged perpetrator deliberately over-billed Farmers for services on 455 occasions. As alleged in the civil complaint, the defendant created a sham office in a remote area, so it could manipulate its billing. In fact, the only things located where the shop is claimed to exist were abandoned mines and a shack. There was no electricity, no running water and certainly no auto glass business. Under national guidelines, automobile glass claims are paid at a premium if the shop is located in less densely populated areas. As explained in the complaint, defendant created documentation that the shop was located in a remote area, so it could charge Farmers significantly more.
"This case shows the lengths people will go for money. We have seen similar scams in California and across the country. We continue to sue civilly and assist law enforcement to stop these perpetrators. This type of fraud takes advantage of a system designed to help our insureds quickly and conveniently replace damaged or broken windshields. However, by secretly manipulating the system, this type of scheme leads to millions of dollars in false claims, " says Doug Ashbridge, director of special investigations. "I am proud of our special investigative unit who, through persistent investigative efforts, yielded conclusive evidence that this was a deliberate effort to defraud Farmers and its policyholders."
Farmers developed evidence indicating that 81% of the money paid to Onsight Auto Glass involved fraud. Farmers' special investigations unit confirmed its suspicions through witnesses and documented the suspected fraud. Following its investigation, it became clear that no glass work was done from the alleged shop location. By pretending to have a shop at this address, defendant was able to falsely charge more for its work.
Mr. Ashbridge says: "Farmers is committed to stamping out insurance fraud. There are no exceptions. Why should hard working and honest people have to pay for the acts of a few dishonest people? Farmers has teams that are designed to detect this type of fraudulent activity and uncover other types of insurance fraud scams. Similar investigations are proceeding nationwide in an attempt to curb these windshield scams."
Farmers is represented by Dennis B. Kass, Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, LLP.
Source: The Farmers Insurance Group
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