California Body Shop Subject of Parts-Switching Investigation
HESPERIA, CA --- A 23-year-old man was arrested at his auto body repair shop for an outstanding warrant related to insurance fraud, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office said.
The Bureau of Automotive Repair began investigating Samuel Llamas in November 2007 after his shop performed auto insurance repair work without a business license, authorities said. A concerned customer had contacted the agency and asked for assistance. It was discovered that Llamas charged the insurance company for new parts but actually repaired the vehicle with “used” and “repaired” parts, officials said.
Subsequently, charges were filed alleging that Llamas committed insurance fraud and grand theft because he profited in excess of $4,000 for the bogus repair work, according to officials.
Llamas was arrested Nov. 5 and booked at the Victor Valley Jail, where his bail was set at $25,000, officials said.
The illegal practice of parts switching has become a growing concern among some consumer groups. Recently, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Action and Consumers Union backed a California bill that would have required body shops to give customers wholesale invoices for crash parts that cost $50 or more. The bill would have also mandated that estimates and final invoices contain a disclosure that parts switching is illegal.
However, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed that bill (AB 2825). Opponents of the bill included the Collision Repair Association of California, the California Autobody Association and the California Motor Car Dealer Association.