Five auto body shops accused of sledgehammering cars in insurance scheme

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Four auto body shops in Westchester and one in the Bronx are accused of operating an insurance fraud scheme that involved intentionally damaging cars with sledgehammers to increase their billing amount.

Nine people arrested in the probe — dubbed Operation Sledgehammer — were charged with enterprise corruption after getting caught on surveillance video purposefully wrecking the vehicles and falsifying the insurance claims, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. announced Wednesday.

The defendants would either enhance damage to cars or destruct undamaged ones to up their billings while keeping the repair cost low, prosecutors said.

The car owner would be charged the higher amount and the defendants would pocket the difference.

One of the several techniques used in the scheme included whacking insured cars with sledgehammers to make it appear the vehicle was involved in a collision.

Four of the suspects were charged last week, while the other five were busted Tuesday. They were all released without bail at their arraignments on charges including enterprise corruption and grand larceny.

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