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Eleven arrested on auto insurance fraud charges

Posted On Fri, April 22, 2011

A 13-month long investigation into an auto insurance fraud scheme may finally be coming to a close as Philadelphia authorities have charged 11 people who are believed to have been involved.

According to Seth Williams, Philadelphia's district attorney, his office was made aware of the scheme by State Farm back in February 2010 and was told that the activity was originating at the Universal Collisions Center, an autobody shop in the downtown area.

A lengthy investigation into the claim revealed that 11 people were involved in inflating appraisals in exchange for cash from the UCC.

Several people who have been charged for taking part in the scheme are officials with the state, such as Gary Cottrell, a 15-year veteran of the 14th district in Germantown and Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, and Michael Wolf, a lawyer with a Philadelphia firm. Two others charged were the manager and owner of the UCC.

If the accused are convicted, they face varying years of prison time, the maximum being 365 years for the autoshop's owner, Edward Hildebrandt.

Auto insurance fraud may be increasing in the state, but in 2007, Pennsylvania had one of the lowest per capita rates, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. 

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