A Merced auto body shop is accused of fraud in several claims exceeding $27,500, according to state regulators.
The state Department of Consumer Affairs announced Tuesday that FH & Sons Auto Body & Paint faces several accusations of insurance fraud against customers and insurance companies.
The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, according to a news release.
The owner of the 835 W. 14th St. shop, Olivia Galvan, could not immediately be reached for comment. Shop manager Armando Higareda said he runs the shop and Galvan, who is his sister, had "nothing to do with this."
During an investigation into FH & Sons' business practices in April 2017, the state Bureau of Automotive Repair inspected several vehicles that had been repaired by the auto body shop as well as records for insurance claims, according to investigators. The inspections "revealed a pattern of false and misleading statements" and fraud.
The shop would file insurance claims for parts that were never put on any car or for services it never completed, according to investigators. Additionally, the shop did not provide mandatory written estimates to customers on multiple occasions.
"A little bit of it that they're saying on these cars is our fault. Not 100 percent," Higareda said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "There's like two or three (customers) that they didn't pay the deductible. We'd tell them that some of these parts are not going to be replaced to cover for your deductible."
Higareda, who has worked at the shop for about four years, said he would not "cut corners" if leaving out parts would be a safety issue, but he did his best to help needy customers.
"As far as I know, we can help people with the deductible," he said. "If it's against the law, I didn't know it was."