WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies say a towing company is bilking helpless drivers, AAA and even insurance companies.
They say drivers with damaged cars are being hit with giant towing fees even though they've paid for an auto club membership.
A report prepared by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies say car owners have come to Panther Towing's lot on Southern Blvd. to get their car back, thinking they had already paid AAA to have their car towed.
But some have allegedly gotten bills for as much as $800. NewsChannel 5 stopped by Panther Towing to ask if it was true.
"We didn't do anything wrong," said an office worker, who declined to give her name.Panther is called to accident scenes by both police departments and by AAA.
Deputies say the investigation started when a AAA customer came to Panther to get her car back. Panther allegedly charged her $503.75 for the tow.
A body shop next door allegedly charged $280 for storage and administrative fees.Panther also allegedly charged AAA $37.15.
After a reporter asked the office worker if they run a clean and reputable business, she said, "Yes we do. And I don't know about this case."
Deputies say they interviewed Panther's former office manager, who told them that:
-Tow slips were doctored to look like Panther was called to the scene by police, not AAA
-Drivers made $400 a week, and 25 percent of anything they brought in over $2,000
-90 percent of AAA calls were "double-billed"
-Drivers got a $20 tip if a car was taken to the body shop
Reporter: "You deny you were double billing clients?"
Response: "We deny it in its entirety."
Reporter: "Why would they make that mistake?"
Response: "No idea."
Deputies say they've found at least two other victims. Panther's owner, Faraz Qaiser, has been charged with fraud. He's out of jail but was unreachable because his community is gated.
The office manager also said double billing continued after the investigation started. We have decided not to name the body shop next door because they have not been charged.