DA: Frankford auto shop owner arrested for insurance fraud
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged Darryl Sewell, 42, and his auto body shop PSK Custom Collision Center for allegedly filing fraudulent insurance claims, exaggerating damages to vehicles and completing repairs using cheaper and inferior substitution parts.
Sewell is accused of misappropriating over $13,000 in claim checks issued by Travelers Insurance.
Detectives with the District Attorney Office’s Insurance Fraud Unit began investigating Sewell and his shop, located at 4831 Duffield St. in Frankford, after receiving a referral from Travelers Insurance Company stemming from a customer who was in August 2011 involved in an accident causing minor damage to the hood and front bumper of her 2004 Honda Accord.
Travelers appraised the damage and issued a check for over $4,300, and the insured customer, at the suggestion of a friend, took her vehicle to PSK Auto Body to be repaired by Sewell.
She contacted Travelers after she was dissatisfied with Sewell’s work, according to investigators.
Prosecutors said when Travelers provided the woman with photos taken by their appraiser at the time of the initial estimate, the woman noted her own photos, taken at the scene of the accident, showed much less damage.
A second appraiser hired to do a re-estimate of the damages allegedly found many auto parts Travelers paid for to be replaced were instead repaired by PSK and that, though Travelers had paid for repairs to be completed using original Honda parts, they were instead done using cheaper, aftermarket parts.
In addition, even after the repairs, prosecutors said the Honda still had a damaged right fender.
They claim Sewell misappropriated the insurance claim check and forged the insured woman’s name on it.
A second Travelers customer in September 2011 reported he took his Ford Escape to PSK after it was vandalized outside his work.
A Travelers appraiser issued a check for over $8,000 to cover the cost of repairs, but the customer claimed three months later the work still hadn’t been completed.
Travelers allegedly found PSK Custom Collision had already cashed the claim check, which the insured customer denied ever seeing or signing.
According to investigators, an appraiser visited PSK and found though the auto body shop was supposed to replace four doors, two fenders, a windshield and the car’s hood and headlights, the collision center instead “made poor attempts to repair parts or replace the parts with less expensive aftermarket parts.”
Sewell was arrested Monday and charged with criminal conspiracy, theft by deception, forgery and insurance fraud.
He is next due in court Sept. 16 for a status listing.