Auto repair shop, operator charged with fraud

Darryl Sewell

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office arrested a Frankford auto repair shop operator on Sept. 9 for allegedly misusing more than $13,000 in auto insurance reimbursements, while failing to fix customers’ damaged vehicles.

Darryl Sewell, 42, and his repair shop, PSK Collision Center, are both listed as defendants, facing charges of forgery, insurance fraud, theft by deception and criminal conspiracy, according to the DA’s office. The shop is on the 4800 block of Duffield St. The prosecutor did not disclose Sewell’s home address.

The DA’s Insurance Fraud Unit launched the investigation after receiving two complaints from Travelers Insurance Co. about suspect repair jobs performed by Sewell’s shop in 2011.

In August 2011, a Travelers customer was involved in an accident with minor damage to the hood and front bumper of her 2004 Honda Accord. The insurance company sent an appraiser to inspect the car at the shop and valued the damages at more than $4,300.

After Sewell’s shop worked on the vehicle, the customer was dissatisfied with the results and contacted the insurance company. The vehicle owner supplied the insurance company with her own photos of the car, which she took at the scene of the crash. Her photos showed much less damage than the appraiser saw when he inspected the car at the shop, the DA’s office said.

In addition, the insurance company had instructed the shop to replace certain parts on the vehicle, but the shop allegedly repaired those parts instead at a cost savings to the shop. The shop did replace other parts, but in many cases used cheaper aftermarket parts, rather than costlier Honda parts as directed by Travelers, according to the DA’s office.

On top of that, the shop allegedly returned the car to the owner with a damaged right fender, while Sewell allegedly forged the vehicle owner’s name on the insurance check issued by Travelers.

In a separate case, a different Travelers customer reported to the insurer in September 2011 that his 2011 Ford Escape had been vandalized. The insurer appraised the damage at more than $8,000 and issued a check in that amount to the vehicle owner.

In December 2011, the vehicle owner notified Travelers that the repairs still had not been completed, although Sewell’s shop already had cashed the claim check, which the vehicle owner denied having ever seen or signed. A Travelers appraiser went to the shop and confirmed that none of the repairs had been completed, the DA’s office said. Rather than replacing numerous parts as directed by the insurance company, the shop allegedly made “poor attempts to repair parts or replace the parts with less expensive aftermarket parts.”

Sewell is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court on Sept. 16 for a status listing. ••