Attorney General Sues Auto Body Repair Shops for Deceptive Practices

The Suit alleges that the company makes false claims, makes repairs without authorization, and hides fees

Attorney General Sues Auto Body Repair Shops for Deceptive Practices
Image: NCCC
September 26, 2018

Attorney General Josh Stein filed a lawsuit against Sterling Paint & Body, LLC, Collision Warehouse, LLC, Sterling Gabriel, and Nichole Gabriel over auto repair schemes in the Charlotte area. The suit alleges that these defendants pretend to be associated with car insurance companies to push consumers to turn their cars over for repair, begin repairs without owner authorization, and charge car owners additional fees before returning their vehicle.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and restitution and civil penalties for victims.

Hidden Power of Attorney

The suit alleges that the defendants contact car owners involved in car accidents and sometimes claim to be calling on behalf of a car insurance company dealing with the accident. The defendants then ask the owners to bring their cars in for repair, and ask owners to sign forms related to the transaction. However, these forms may actually include a power of attorney authorizing the defendants to complete repairs, negotiate with the insurance company, act as the car owner's agent, and cash insurance checks that cover the cost of repairs.

Unauthorized Repairs And Undisclosed Fees

In some cases, defendants begin unauthorized repairs upon the vehicle after asking the owners to bring the cars in for an initial estimate. The defendants also tear down vehicles to prevent insurance adjusters from reviewing the claim or defendants from revoking their repair authorization.

Defendants also often charge a $295 processing fee for insurance paperwork or a storage fee without disclosing either fee to the consumer.

There May Be More Victims

While Attorney General Stein has received seven complaints about Sterling and Nichole Gabriel and their companies, and the Better Business Bureau has received 12 complaints, there may be more customers who have been impacted by this scam.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a scam by these defendants or any other should file a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.