A panel shop in Kings County, Brooklyn, has been accused of running a ‘Damage Enhancing Scheme’ in order to over-bill insurance companies by thousands of dollars.
The Brooklyn auto shop, Perfect Collision, was accused of increasing damage to vehicles brought in, in order to overcharge Geico Insurance (and it is suspected, many others) for repairs and services that were unnecessary. In the list of fraudulent claims is $1,000 for a rental car that the customer never requested.
The company’s owner, Elle Berger and its co-owner Hershey Greenberger, is to be indicted following an undercover investigation by KCDA Detective Investigators, who were hired by Geico to investigate the unusually high value of the average claims from Perfect Collision.
They intentionally damaged a car’s fender, photographed it, and then took it in to Perfect Collision. When the claim was submitted, they noticed that the damage had been ‘enhanced’ – there was an additional dent on the fender, and more damage had been added elsewhere. In addition to this, Perfect Collision also claimed over $1,000 for a rental car that KCDA never requested, or received.
Standard procedure when receiving an insurance claim is to send an investigator out to photograph the evidence. Geico claim that when they sent an investigator out to photograph another vehicle, the investigator spotted a minivan he was supposed to photograph the next day. Without notifying Perfect Collision, he photographed the damage to the minivan.
The following day, when he returned to photograph the minivan, the damage was much more extensive than it had been when initially photographed. This confirmed Geico’s suspicions that Perfect Collision may have been tampering with vehicles before submitting claims.
Investigators then executed search warrants on Perfect Collision, and found more than $700,000 in cash, a 2011 application for public assistance claiming Berger (the owner) only earned $350 a week as an employee, adding welfare fraud to the list of potential charges.
An indictment is an accusatory document which can lead to a charge, and is not a formal charge in itself.