For Immediate Release: September 29, 2010

Car Shop Owner and Customer Accused of Insurance Fraud

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrests of a Martin County automobile repair shop owner and one of his customers for alleged insurance fraud.

John Marvin Smith, III, 33, of 1057 Alice Road, Robersonville; and Fronzie Griffin, 24, of 109 Little St., Williamston, were both charged with one count each of obtaining property by false pretense, insurance fraud and conspiracy.

Department criminal investigators allege that in July and August 2010, Smith, the owner of John's Kustom Paint and Exhaust in Robersonville, and Griffin, a customer at the shop, conspired to and submitted an inflated auto repair bill for work done on Griffin's car to Farm Bureau Insurance of North Carolina for a vandalism claim. As a result of the claim, Griffin received payments from the insurance company totaling $2,318.

Investigators accuse them of submitting a bill to the insurance company for substantially more than the actual costs of the repair to defraud the insurance company and split the extra money.

Smith and Griffin were arrested and processed on Sept. 28 in Martin County; each was placed under a $50,000 unsecured bond.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating claims of insurance fraud. So far in 2010, these criminal investigators have seen more than 268 cases successfully closed with more than $18.5 million in restitution and recoveries, 54 criminal convictions and 89 arrests.

An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims. To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840. Callers may remain anonymous. Information is also available at www.ncdoi.com.

--NCDOI--