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6/13/2011 - Philadelphia police charge 11 in auto insurance fraud scheme

Police in Philadelphia say a number of body shops were exaggerating damage to vehicles.

A vehicle repair shop professional faces up to 365 years in prison if he's convicted of auto insurance fraud, which he and 10 other people are accused of.

According to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, the investigation into the scheme lasted 13 months after his office was made aware of the activity last February. Williams said he was told by an informant that the scheme was being carried out by several individuals at the University Collision Centers (UCC), an auto body shop located in the downtown portion of the city.

The ensuing investigation into the allegation revealed that the owner and its employees "were enhancing and creating damage to vehicles brought into UCC for repair in order to inflate the value of insurance claims for collision damage," according to a statement from Williams' office.

In addition to UCC appraisers and its owners, a 15-year veteran of the Germantown and Chestnut Hill police department was also charged, as was Michael Wolf, a lawyer with a Philadelphia firm.

Auto insurance fraud leads to increasing rates. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the average policy holder pays $200 to $300 every year in extra premiums because of it.

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