Detectives Find More Alleged Fee Overcharges by Arizona Towing Company

November 20, 2006

Phoenix authorities investigating possible fraud at a Mesa towing company uncovered an additional $107,000 in overcharged fees for tow-related services to customers or insurance companies.

A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detective’s analysis of 17,175 Cactus Towing bills from June 2003 to March 2005 found $107,468 in fees that were overcharged or charged for services not allowed under the state Department of Public Service East Valley contract.

Records analyzed by detectives came from hard drives seized by deputies during a March 2005 raid at the company’s Mesa location. The DPS had warned Cactus about overcharges after a 2002 audit.

The high-profile fraud investigation focused on allegations by former employees and associates that the company used police towing contracts to gouge car owners by tacking on illegal charges, keeping a second set of billing records to mask illegal charges and defrauding insurance firms.

Those records are part of a second set released by the Sheriff’s Office this week, including six binders containing hundreds of pages of documents. They included interviews by detectives and an analysis of the company’s records.

Kent Nicholas, Cactus’ attorney, declined comment, saying he has not seen the records.

The report has been sent to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for review.

Cactus, one of the largest towing companies in the state, was sold in June to Phoenix-based Rush Auto Recyclers. It operates the company under a new name, All-City Towing, with locations in Mesa, Chandler and Phoenix.

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