GEICO has filed a federal lawsuit in California alleging that a local auto glass repair shop submitted fraudulent repair bills.
The insurer is looking to recover damages, alleging that the repair shop – Winaffix Auto Glass – violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as the California Business and Professional Code. GEICO has also filed claims for common law fraud and unjust enrichment.
The insurer alleges that Tal Elzari and Navid Vatankhahan, the owners of Winaffix Auto Glass, used their business in a scheme to overbill for windshield glass replacement. The alleged scheme involved creating false glass invoices that mimicked those from legitimate car dealerships so that Elzari and Vatankhahan could fraudulently claim they were using pricey original equipment glass, rather than less expensive glass.
The suit further alleges that Winaffix Auto Glass never purchased the glass their invoices claimed, and that the repair shop performed glass replacement services without having the proper license to do so.
In a release, GEICO announced that in addition to this lawsuit, it intends to file suits in California and in other parts of the US as part of its continuing effort to protect its customers.
“GEICO is committed to protecting our customers from the negative effect that insurance fraud has on premiums,” said GEICO assistant vice-president of claims James Jones. “These incidents of fraud hurt consumers in California because they cause premiums to increase, and we will continue to pursue them with a zero tolerance.”