NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes announced indictments against a Brooklyn body shop Thursday, stemming from an alleged insurance fraud scheme.
Hynes said the “Perfect Collision” body shop in Borough Park caused “enhanced damage” to cars brought into their shop “thereby increasing the profit margin.”
The shop’s owner, Elie Berger, and his employee, Hershy Greenberger, are charged with submitting inflated bills to Geico insurance in the so-called “damage enhancement scheme.”
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Hynes said the company was even charging Geico for rental cars that were never requested. The District Attorney said all the case did was jack up insurance premiums.
An eagle-eyed Geico insurance adjuster noticed before and after damage to a minivan, which helped spur the investigation. According to the Brooklyn DA, while the adjuster was at the body shop to photograph another car, he saw a minivan which he was supposed to take photos of the next day.
That adjuster snapped pictures of the minivan, which had little to no damage, and returned the next day to find it with new, extensive damage to the fender, driver-side door and other areas, according to the indictment.
An investigation involving an undercover detective also was instrumental in uncovering the alleged fraud. KCDA detective investigators damaged the fender of a car, photographed it and brought the vehicle to Perfect Collision by way of the undercover.
According to the indictment, Greenberger told the undercover that Geico would cover all repair costs. When an adjuster from Geico went to assess the damage, there was additional damage to the same fender, according to the indictment.
Investigators also recovered more than $700,000 in cash at Berger’s home. They also found an application for public assistance claiming that Berger earned $350 a week as an employee of the shop.
Authorities said the evidence recovered from the home would be used to investigate possible welfare fraud.
Hynes is also urging the New York State Legislature to increase the penalties for insurance crimes.