A months-extended KPRC 2 Investigation searching into theft, threats, violence and allegations of insurance policies fraud, culminated in the arrest of the owner of the enterprise But additional work wants to be finished.
Harris County Collision, situated at 16210 Clay Highway around Highway 6, is compared with any fix store we’ve at any time investigated. We have been initially contacted about the businesses’ alleged bad practices by consumers proclaiming they were victims of fraud. But public documents, which include 911 calls and surveillance movie connected to police reviews, uncovered that considerably additional was going on at the shop.
So considerably in 2021, there have been 58 calls to 911 from the company, an improve from the 48 phone calls for service the calendar year ahead of. Records show 67 calls to 911 ended up produced from the shop in 2019.
Despite the fact that the character of the calls differ, at least a single phone attained in a records request information a chaotic situation. That person, who did not want to be discovered, referred to as 911 from his locked motor vehicle in the parking lot as car store personnel surrounded the car or truck. About seven minutes in, the caller reviews to the dispatcher that they opened the vehicle’s doorway.
You can listen to that phone listed here.
Consumers ended up contacting 911 about the store and the guy operating it, Octavio Jonathan Castellanos.
Surveillance movie acquired by KPRC 2 Investigates exhibits a chaotic scene at the business when deputies say Castellanos fired a semi-computerized rifle in the parking whole lot across Clay Highway in December 2019. Castellanos was billed with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the shoot-out, but the rates had been dismissed in a plea deal linked to a further case.
Fix store shoppers say they were tricked
Right before public data disclosed a record of threats and violence at Harris County Collision, multiple shoppers attained out to KPRC 2 complaining of what they say is fraud.
These former customers explained to KPRC 2 Investigates the same story Someone identified as them performing like their insurance company soon after their car or truck accident and directed them to Harris County Collision.
Travis Poston’s dealings with Harris County Collision had been not violent, but they were high priced and he suspects, felony.
“Something requirements to be performed. Time period,” mentioned Poston. “I absolutely assume it’s a rip-off. I feel it’s structured criminal offense at its at its best.”
Poston’s Kia Cadenza was rear-finished in a hit-and-run crash around his property in the Heights. He filed a law enforcement report and an insurance declare. In days, he says he received a contact from an individual professing to be with Root, his insurance plan corporation. Poston claims they directed him to choose his car to Harris County collision on Clay Road “to get it adjusted.”
“They by now had paperwork drawn up. And I was like, alright, this will have to be normal protocol,” mentioned Poston.
Crystal Walter claims the identical detail occurred to her. She obtained a call from someone who advised her he was with Point out Farm, the at-fault driver’s coverage company, about bringing her vehicle to the similar store.
Walter’s wrecked auto experienced currently been towed to the nearest mend store just after the wreck, but she suggests the caller instructed her they needed to transfer it to a desired collision middle in buy to “make the process shift more rapidly.”
“Somehow they are finding access to your identify, your automobile, your coverage. They have all this facts,” explained Walter.
Fred Lohmann with the Countrywide Insurance plan Crime Bureau claims he’s found this prior to.
“They’re likely right after the income,” stated Lohmann. “Repair outlets tricking people into signing paperwork to authorize the teardown of their motor vehicles.”
After the purchaser realizes they have been tricked it’s far too late.
“Now you come across out that your motor vehicle is in 150 items, they’ve presently disassembled a lot of it, or there is been improved damage to it,” stated Lohmann.
It’s what Poston reported happened to him. He had small destruction to his bumper from his incident when he dropped his car or truck off at Harris County Collision. When he last but not least acquired it back, his bumper was broken into 2 items and none of car’s ameras or sensors have been operating any longer.
“This ended up being more damaged than it was originally,” claimed Poston.
Weeks afterwards each Crystal and Travis say their insurance policies companies explained to them they never ever made those phone calls and Harris County Collision was demanding thousands of pounds to launch their motor vehicles.
“We paid out $4,015,” explained Walters.
“First they came at me with $1900. And I reported, ‘no way,’” stated Poston.
KPRC 2 Investigates confronts shop employee Operator arrested
In July, KPRC 2 Investigates went to Harris County Collision and requested about buyer grievances accusing the store of pretending to be an insurance policies company to get their business.
A store employee at first professing to be in charge, denied all of the promises in July. KPRC 2 Investigates is not determining the man or woman following a adhere to up discussion in September when he said he no for a longer time is effective with Harris County Collision.
“It’s your story that no one from Harris County Collision ever termed him and claimed bring your car or truck here?” requested Investigator Amy Davis.
“No, we would never ever do nothing at all like that,” mentioned the previous store employee in July. “We work with insurance policies providers. Like we don’t perform with Progressive, Geico, Point out Farm, Farmers. We do insurance policies promises, but we do not call and say we are the coverage enterprise, to convey the car.”
Days right before KPRC 2′s story aired, the business closed the Clay Street locale and moved to a new place in Katy.
Harris County Collision owner Castellanos would not return our phone calls to communicate about the statements of fraud. When we begun our investigation, he was on probation for unauthorized use of a motor auto. When on probation Castellanos picked up fees for theft, harassment, and then aggravated assault with a fatal weapon when deputies say he defeat a single of his mechanics with a pistol the working day he quit in May possibly.
Court docket files display when deputies went to the company on the prior criminal cases they identified “several stolen vehicles” at the store.
Castellanos experienced a warrant out for his arrest for 3 months when KPRC 2 Investigates recorded him coming and going from work driving a black truck with paper plates.
“Pretty substantially nothing at all has occurred interval,” stated Andy Kahan with Houston Crimestoppers.
Kahan says Castellanos’ probation need to have been revoked months back. Just this week, soon after KPRC 2 Investigates designed several phone calls to HCSO, U.S. Marshals arrested Castellanos.
“The issue is for how very long,” explained Kahan.
Why no fraud rates?
Castellanos’ arrest has very little to do with the allegations of coverage fraud. While consumers have submitted law enforcement stories and civil statements Lohmann suggests obtaining community legislation enforcement organizations to look into the fraud is not simple.
Lohmann states the NICB has assisted investigations exactly where police section staff members offer accident report data to runners who get the job done for repair stores.
“That is the genesis of their potential to to perpetrate these frauds and these crimes,” Lohmann described.
The fix outlets then use the information and facts on the law enforcement studies to contact incident victims, pretending to be coverage adjustors and staff. The names, get hold of data and insurance coverage information on accident experiences is not public and generally only obtainable to the motorists involved in the incident and their insurance coverage firms. It is mysterious how Harris County Collision received the data in these instances, but what is clear is that the victims contacting legislation enforcement to report the deception were all instructed the exact same thing Their troubles were being civil issues and sheriff’s deputies could not get concerned.
Lohmann argues law enforcement can and really should get included. It commonly takes special models or investigators to devote the time to function the complex circumstances.
If you believe you’ve been a target of insurance policy fraud, an additional place to report it apart from nearby police or sheriff is the Texas Section of Insurance plan Fraud Unit. They have prosecutors in the biggest counties in the condition to get the job done these varieties of conditions.
Have a idea for our KPRC 2 Investigates crew?
We have been functioning on this KPRC 2 Investigation for months and spent several hours undercover, checking out this repair shop and the staff there. It all began when a viewer contacted us, inquiring for assistance. You can electronic mail or connect with us at any time with concerns you are getting and we will get the job done to get responses for you.
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