N.C. Auto Body Manager Arrested on Fraud Charges

September 3, 2003

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long announced the arrest of Jim Goodman, manager, foreman and estimator for USA Custom Paint and Body Shop of Raleigh, N.C., on six counts of making a false statement to procure insurance benefits, a felony.

These charges stem from a two-year investigation conducted by the Department of Insurance which revealed allegations of inflated estimates and false claims made to four insurance companies, including Penn National Insurance Company, Horace Mann/MetLife Insurance Company, CGU of Southeast Greenville (S.C.) and the American Auto Club Insurance Agency.

Department investigators allege that Goodman processed estimates on damaged vehicles that came into the shop for repair. While his initial estimates reflected reasonable charges, it is alleged that he later submitted inflated estimates either for work that was not needed or repairs that were never done. It is further alleged that the vehicle owners’ were not aware of the inflated charges and the insurance companies paid the claims in full.

Goodman is accused of receiving approximately $15,000 from this scheme.

“While the courts will ultimately determine if the charges against this particular individual warrant a conviction, insurance consumers across the state and the nation are being duped and their companies having to pay claims that are not justified,” Long said. “Insurance fraud costs consumers billions every year, and that means decent, law abiding citizens pay the price through increased premiums.”

A spokesman for MetLife, which allegedly suffered three false claims at the hands of Goodman, praised the department. “As a company we applaud the actions taken by the Department of Insurance to protect the interests of every resident in North Carolina, who ultimately pay the cost of insurance fraud,” he said.

“We have the officers to investigate fraud, and we have the resources to lock up the perpetrators—but we depend on tips from community members and others who are often on the front lines of fraudulent activity,” Long said. “If you suspect insurance fraud in your community or workplace, report it to the Department’s Investigations Division at (919) 733-7434.”

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