Fraud Indictment in Iowa

Here's a scenario you don't want to happen. A company very similarly named to yours seems to be representing itself as you and taking away business. There's a name for it: fraud. And Dennis Hill, Hawkeye Auto Glass, Iowa City, Iowa, has gotten sweet revenge with the indictment recently of a competitor who was doing this to him.

Jason Shannon, owner of Hawkeye Auto Specialists in Coralville, the twin city next to Iowa City, is answering charges in court these days, not on the phone as Hawkeye Auto Glass. However, the fraud charge stems from false billing of insurance companies for work.

According to court documents, Shannon allegedly overbilled on insurance work to the tune of $10,000 between September 2000 and October 2002 for work done on policyholders' vehicles. He was charged with first degree theft after a year-long police investigation and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. Shannon has pleaded not guilty.

According to sources familiar with the case, Shannon's company was billing for more expensive windshields than he was installing. (For example, billing for a heated windshield but installing a regular unit.)

Hill is glad to see the company shut down because, he said, the company was deliberately misrepresenting itself as Hawkeye Auto Glass, confusing consumers, and he was getting its complaints.

However, Hill is also upset about another aspect of the matter. When he obtained information that made him certain Shannon was billing incorrectly on glass work, "I called LYNX more than once to report it. However, I was told that LYNX was not an investigative operation and would not look into the matter. The networks were letting him do this because there are no audit procedures," Hill stated.

Hill also contacted State Farm, which was not the insurance company being billed falsely, and its representatives got involved and helped to resolve the issue.

"This was affecting my business and I took action which shows that the industry is willing to help police itself when it knows that there is fraud being committed. But why isn't there any auditing further up the chain with the third party administrators when this fraud is called to their attention?" That's Hill's question.

A spokesman for Lynx stated that the company would indeed take action in any serious instance of fraud that was reported to it. However, he added that the company may or may not indicate this. "We have to be very careful about this type of situation. We may have been contacted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau about that same company and we don't want to do anything which would jeopardize their work in investigating fraud."

No reproduction, in print, electronic or any form without the expressed written permission of
Key Communications Inc. 540-720-5584.