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A body shop owner and a shop manager were arrested on charges of auto insurance fraud after allegedly over-billing for 20 repairs and costing Farmers Insurance $15,000, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced. Dong Suk Choi, 52, owner of Choice Auto Body in Santa Clara and Newark, and Santa Clara shop manager Timothy Zen Powell, 32, were arrested July 1 and charged with multiple counts of automobile insurance fraud. Bail for the men was set at $50,000 each.
Farmers, in conjunction with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Urban Auto Fraud Task Force, reinspected repaired vehicles from the two Choice Auto Body locations and found that the shop allegedly over-billed the insurer for repair costs on 20 of the 28 reinspected vehicles.
Choi and Powell allegedly repaired old parts when billing Farmers for new parts, or used inferior parts in some circumstances, according to CDI. The alleged fraud is estimated to have cost Farmers about $15,000.
"Insurance fraud costs everyone money when it’s passed on to consumers in the form of higher rates," said Poizner. "If you defraud an insurance company, the Department of Insurance will find you and help prosecute you."
The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.
The CDI Urban Auto Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from the California Department of Insurance, California Highway Patrol and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Click HERE to read about a Wisconsin shop owner accused of repair fraud by the FBI.