John Paul Reis, owner of the Chalfont Collision Center in Chalfont, Pa., has been ordered by a court to pay more than $435,000 in restitution to the five insurance companies he defrauded by submitting nearly 300 false insurance claims over eight years. He was also sentenced to 84 months of restrictive probation.
The 56-year-old Reis pleaded guilty in March to insurance fraud, deceptive business practices, forgery and theft by deception, which are all third-degree felonies. He was initially charged in August 2022 following a four-year investigation by the insurance fraud unit of the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
The first four months of his probation will be served on home confinement with electronic monitoring, according to a media release from the district attorney’s office. He must also repay $435,246.69 to insurance companies Erie Insurance, Nationwide Insurance, CSAA Insurance Group, Liberty Mutual Insurance and NJM Insurance.
“Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime,” Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber said. “The defendant’s actions had a cost that greatly exceeded the high dollar figure with which he was charged. This cost trickled down to all consumers. The defendant’s actions over the course of eight years were part of a crime spree that had the effect of increasing insurance premiums and costs across the board.”
The investigation began in September 2018 after detectives received a referral from Erie Insurance that alleged the Chalfont Collision Center was enhancing and or creating damage to customers’ vehicles to inflate insurance estimates.
The investigation found that Reis concocted an insurance fraud scheme where he would wipe a compound mixture onto the body of several vehicles and sometimes strike them with a hammer, making it appear as if the vehicles were involved in an accident, so he could bill insurance companies for more money.
As a direct repair center for Erie Insurance and other insurance companies, the collision center possessed credentials authorizing it to write estimates, complete the repairs, and submit the estimate and billing documents for payment. The collision center’s credentials have been suspended as a result of the investigation.
This investigation was conducted by Bucks County detectives with assistance of Central Bucks Regional Police Department, the Attorney General’s Office, and the investigations units for Erie Insurance, Nationwide Insurance, CSAA Insurance Group, Liberty Mutual Insurance and NJM Insurance.