13 charged in Phila. insurance fraud scheme

November 4, 2010 5:36:58 PM PDT
The Pennsylvania State Police announced the arrests of 13 people on Thursday in an insurance and theft ring operating out of a Philadelphia auto body shop.

The investigation, which began in November 2008, focused on 41-year-old Phillip Sessa of Ventnor, New Jersey. Sessa is the owner and operator of Philly Collision at 2501 Wharton Street.

Authorities say Sessa and at least a dozen others would vandalize vehicles or report them stolen, even staging fake accidents, then submit fraudulent claims to insurance companies in order to receive payment.

In the words of Maj. George Bevins of the State Police, they "conspired to have their vehicles damaged to have them stolen to receive a payout."

Included among those arrested was 74-year-old Andrew Yates of upscale Gladwyne, an insurance adjuster. Police say he inflated estimates.

Another man charged is 23-year-old Dominique Nixon. In May of 2008 he reported his Dodge Magnum vandalized. After going to Philly Collision, an insurance claim of more than $11,000 dollars was paid.

One month later, in June, another claim - Nixon reported his Magnum stolen. He tried to collect the value of car, estimated at about $24,000. That was when his insurer got suspicious.

The alleged scam lasted at least 11 months, valued at $300,000.

As for where the money went - police say some of it was used to pay off gambling debts.

Sessa was arraigned on Thursday when bail was set at 10% of $1 million.


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