PHOENIX – In Phoenix, an auto body shop owner has been found guilty of insurance fraud and forgery when he authorized his employees to do additional damage to wrecked vehicles which were brought in his shop in order to collect more insurance payments.
The owner of 1st Class Collision, Michael Griesa, was convicted on Thursday 19 June 2014, according to the Arizona Department of Insurance. Griesa has been placed on probation for a year by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge. In addition, he has been fined $813 and has been ordered to pay nearly $2,000 in restitution for the two felony convictions.
The case emerged when some of the former employees of 1st Class Collision reported the fraud to Progressive Insurance which then called the Arizona Department of Insurance. The ex-employees confirmed that the damage and fraud occurred from October 2010 through April 2012. When Progressive Insurance received this notification, they alerted the Arizona Department of Insurance which then started an undercover investigation into the matter. Evidence of fraud was found and before and after photos of vehicles that had been damaged after arriving at Griesa’s shop were included in the investigation. These photos were provided by one of the former employees of 1st Class Collision.
On the website of 1st Class Collision, the business has been described as trusted and reliable. The staff is said to be well trained to use techniques and professional tools effectively to achieve good results for customers. Furthermore, the business has received good reviews on a consumer website by the name of Yelp. One customer was extremely satisfied and appreciated the staff for noticing the damage on her mothers’ vehicle than what was initially perceived. Karen S. of Fullerton, California, has written a review on Yelp which states, “When my mother had what she thought was only a flat tire, but was really damage as she apparently hit something,”.
On the other hand, Griesa’s attorney, Kevin Berger, did not immediately respond to the incident and only a person identified as Mike at 1st Class Collision answered saying that he would pass on a message to Michael Griesa.
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