BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- - Outrageous charges on wrecked cars that are not even repairable is a scam surfacing in South Florida, according to investigators at Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs.
According to reports and a recent arrest, some body shop repairmen are allegedly posing as insurance adjusters just to make a quick buck.
It happened most recently to Ira Robinson of Boynton Beach. Robinson now has a brand, new Chrysler 200 convertible, but he said it doesn't compare to his old vehicle he lost in April.
"I was a little befuddled at first. I was hit and fortunately I had my seat belt on," said Robinson.
He didn't need his car towed but Robinson said he did not know what to do. While he was standing in front of his wrecked car Robinson said a man named Vince showed up out of nowhere.
"He said we could fix the car up. I'll help you with the deductible, so forth which at that time I thought maybe I could save some money," said Robinson.
What Robinson did not realize, when he signed a vehicle release form to have his vehicle towed to a collision shop, was that he would get a bill with charges that would total more than $1,600.
"They've been called ambulance chasers and wreck chasers," said Eugene Reavis, an investigator at Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs.
Reavis said in this most recent case, the man helping him was posing as an insurance adjuster. That man, according to Reavis, and an arrest report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, was Vincenzo Gurrera. He now faces four different charges.
Reavis said because the county regulates tow shops and not body shops, Robinson's signature was a pass for Gurrera to hit his wallet at will.
"Somebody has to pay the fees and a lot of times consumers may not know, they may end up paying the bills themselves," said Reavis.
And if the insurance company has to pay it, Reavis said it is these types of scams that drive insurance rates in the county through the roof.
"Now in retrospect, I feel very stupid about the whole thing. That I was caught in this whole scam," said Robinson.
But Robinson is not alone.
Consumer Affairs said it is seeing more and more similar incidents, where body shops are praying on the unsuspected.
Reavis said the best defense is for drivers to call their insurance companies before signing any paperwork to make sure the person they are dealing with is reputable.