La. Repair Shops Under Fraud Investigation

December 2, 2004

As many as 25 New Orleans-area auto repair shops might be connected to about 700 false claims filed with Shell Oil Co. for fuel gauge repairs, according to the head of the Louisiana state police insurance fraud division.

Lt. Allen Carpenter declined to identify any of the shops under investigation, but said nearly all of them are in Orleans Parish, according to the Associated Press and the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Last week, police arrested 11 New Orleans city workers, including nine meter attendants, suspected of making false insurance claims totaling more than $7,000.

More arrests are likely as investigators look at more of the auto shops, Carpenter said. The investigation could continue for another six months, he said.

Thousands of drivers bought bad gasoline in May when Shell’s Motiva refinery in St. Charles Parish produced fuel that contained sulfur and hydrogen sulfide, both highly corrosive materials. The contaminated fuel ruined some gas gauges.

About 53,000 motorists filed damage claims for repairs with Shell. Officials said the average repair cost around $900.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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