FBI Investigating Wisconsin Body Shop
WAUKESHA, WI --- The FBI is alleging that a Waukesha auto repair business owner and some of his employees have been enhancing damage to vehicles, replacing air bags with used air bags, and using salvage yard parts instead of new ones in order to defraud insurance companies, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The warrant alleges that shop owner Brian Bautz has been fraudulently conducting business at Auto Integrity Inc. on a daily basis. The FBI has been investigating the business since 2004, according to the warrant. Agents searched the business April 29 and confiscated auto parts, financial records and vehicle repair estimates, the Journal Sentinel reported. However, Bautz was not immediately charged and the business remained open.
The warrant alleges that former employees have said that Bautz ordered them to further damage vehicles involved in crashes before insurance appraisers would arrive at the shop. Bautz would allegedly order new parts from auto companies only to obtain the invoice to use for billing purposes, and then return the majority of the new parts and purchase used parts from salvage yards. Allegedly, the used parts would be used in the repairs.
The warrant also alleges that Bautz would sometimes bill the insurance company for a new part but simply repair the old one, and that he kept a room full of damaged parts or "props" to photograph and send to insurance companies. Some insurance companies were allegedly billed for nonexistent damage. When a used air bag was installed in a vehicle, it was repainted to match the vehicle's interior, the warrant alleges.
According to the warrant, every job had a "double sheet." One record was the inflated estimate; the other was the document used in-house describing the actual work to be done.