Authorities have charged a group of 41 people composed of police officers, city officials, and insurance company employees, with insurance fraud after discovering their involvement in an elaborate con, which fleeced insurance companies out of $2.3 million in payouts.
They’ve charged Ronald Galati Sr., the owner of American Collision and Auto Center, of being the operation’s leader and falsifying insurance claims for financial gain. According to the investigation, Galati Sr. would create false accounts of vehicles being damaged in accidents involving falling objects and animals to increase settlement amounts.
He would even go so far as to make his company’s employees collect and store deer carcasses in the garage for props in the photos that they’d submit with the falsified claims. The con artist would even go so far as to arrange for some of the vehicles in his shop to be vandalized.
Galati Sr.’s faked reports would then be legitimized with the alleged help of a police office, two insurance adjusters, and an entire team of tow truck drivers. He’s even accused of conspiring with one of the Philadelphia’s Office of Fleet Management officials to secure a $1.8 million contract with the city of Philadelphia.
“Unfortunately, these stories to often leave an impression that insurance fraud is rampant. This is not the case, the percentage of insurance fraud is small,” says Robert Stone of Robert Stone Law Office. “Unfortunately, events like the one reported regarding Mr. Galati have a chilling effect on the law abiding citizens that make valid insurance claims- adjusters are suspect of insurance claims and juries are as well. Often the first hurdle in an automobile accident jury trial is to erase the jury’s preconceived notion that plaintiffs exaggerate their claims.”
These co-conspirators say that his motto was always, “I live my life to cheat insurance companies–my high every day is to cheat insurance companies.”
Such an elaborate scheme would naturally be lucrative, considering the fact that in 2012, the average auto liability claim for property damage amounted to $3,073; the average auto collision claim amounted to $2,950; and the average comprehensive claim amounted to $1,585.
So far, authorities have arrested 14 of the scheme’s alleged participants, and in the process of detaining the other 27 co-conspirators. Galati Sr. himself now faces hundreds of counts of insurance fraud, conspiracy, and theft by deception amongst other felony charges.