Three family members operating Houston automobile towing, storage and repair companies lead a list of seven defendants accused by Allstate Insurance Company of over-charging for towing services and disassembling vehicles without vehicle owners’ knowledge.
The charges are laid out in a lawsuit filed Dec. 16 by Allstate in Harris County, Texas, alleging fraud and false representation involving more than 100 Houston-area motorists. The lawsuit is seeking damages totaling more than $180,000, Allstate announced.
The suit alleges the defendants intentionally overcharged Allstate and falsely claimed that teardowns of some vehicles in their possession were authorized by the vehicle owners, further escalating charges to the insurer.
Allstate says the lawsuit was filed following an investigation by the insurer’s Special Investigative Unit and seeks reimbursement of monies Allstate has paid in alleged overcharges.
"Phony insurance claims take an extra $200 to $300 out of every consumer’s pocketbook annually in the form of higher premiums," says Jim Murray, Allstate assistant vice president in charge of the company’s Special Investigative Unit. "Allstate has no tolerance for this crime, and we will continue to fight insurance fraud on behalf of our policyholders and consumers in general."
The lawsuit alleges the defendants engaged in conduct intentionally designed to defraud Allstate by falsely representing the "true nature and origin of their services." The City of Houston and Harris County regulate the amount that automobile towing and storage companies can legally charge in any "non-consent" tow, which is often initiated by a police officer at the scene of an accident.
The lawsuit alleges in many cases, the defendants falsely represented that their towing and storage services were requested or initiated by the vehicle owner, and the defendants then charged significantly higher rates for their services than allowed for "non-consent" towing and storage services.
The lawsuit also contends that the defendants falsely claimed that teardown of the vehicle in their possession was authorized by the vehicle owner. Allstate noted that since teardown performed by body shops to evaluate vehicle damage and estimate repair costs leaves the car or truck in pieces, it’s more difficult to move to a repair facility potentially preferred by the vehicle owner.
The defendants named in the lawsuit include Faraj "Sam" Said, Ghassan "Gus" Said, Ibrahim Said, Patrick Green, Noor Said Enterprises Inc. (aka, Noor Enterprise Inc.), Budget Collision Inc. and National Auto Collision, Inc. The lawsuit identifies several businesses operated by the named defendants, including National Auto Collision, Budget Auto Collision, Holmes Road Storage and South Loop Storage, among others.
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