WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Westchester District Attorney says the “fix” was in at a half-dozen auto repair shops, where surveillance video captured workers deliberately damaging vehicles.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday, it’s all part of an alleged insurance fraud.READ MORE: New York State Legislature Votes To Curb Gov. Cuomo's Emergency Powers
Auto repair shops in Westchester and the Bronx were allegedly billing insurance companies to repair damage their own employees inflicted, raking in several hundred thousand of dollars over the course of a year.
Video shows a worker driving one vehicle, scraping the side of another, in order to further damage them both.
In another instance, a worker allegedly used a sledgehammer to ding and dent the side of a car, jacking up the cost of repair.
“It was extremely daring, they were doing the hammering in the video right outside the shop,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino said. “Yes, it was very bold and I think they felt nobody would be monitoring them.”
They were wrong. The DA opened a criminal enterprise probe after insurance companies grew suspicious and reported multiple questionable claims.READ MORE: Brooklyn Mom Wants NYC Apartments Inspected Annually After Parts Of Ceiling Crash Down On 12-Year-Old Son
Investigators secretly kept tabs on these businesses for months, using court-approved surveillance cameras surreptitiously hidden on utility poles.
The owner of Lee’s Auto Repair in New Rochelle is charged in the alleged scheme, as is the operator of Cermele Auto Collision across the street.
A man who identified himself as Joseph Cermele refused comment.
“Can you tell us anything about the allegations?” Aiello asked.
“Not right now,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Cermele used the business to generate estimates for phony repair work, and cashed fraudulently obtained insurance checks.
“Many people say, ‘Oh, you know, it’s just the insurance company that loses money. Why should we worry about them,'” Scarpino said. “This only increases all of our premiums.”
Intentionally putting dings in vehicles, ultimately taking a dent out of your wallet.MORE NEWS: Immersive Public Art Installation Now On Display At Domino Park
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