Cop, Attorney and 7 Others Arrested For Insurance Fraud Scheme
A big insurance fraud scheme was uncovered by a 13 month investigation conducted by the DA’s insurance fraud unit. Those busted in this crime include a Philadelphia police officer, a personal injury attorney, seven insurance appraisers and a Philadelphia collision repair shop – University Collision Centers.
This scheme netted this group of fraudsters millions over four years. A total of 11 suspects were charged for what some call a victimless crime – which is far from the truth. As more fraud occurs, insurance rates increase. So in actuality everyone who has auto insurance may find themselves paying for this type of crime.
The investigation revealed that this Collision repair shop worked with Appraisers who would inflate the vehicle damage appraisals in exchange for kickbacks, some kickbacks being as high as $1,000.
Those arrested include:
Gary Cottrell, a 44 year old 15 yr veteran to the 14th district police department known to be a “wreck chaser” who would refer accident victims to University Collision Center.
Michael Wolf was a 52 year old attorney out of Phoenixville, Chester County, who advised University Collision Center and also filed a number of phony personal injury claims.
Edward Hildebrandt was the owner of the Collision Center with centers in Gray’s Ferry and Manayunk with David Coleman, the manager. There were also seven car damage appraisers.
The seven vehicle damage appraisers included four from Philadelphia, two from Cherry Hill and one from Mullica Hill in South Jersey.
District Attorney Seth Williams says his office was contacted by State Farm Insurance Company on February 2010 regarding the operations at University Collision Centers.