Arrests made in 'Little Body Shop of Horrors'

A Grays Ferry auto shop owner and an insurance adjuster were among 13 people arrested today as part of an insurance-fraud scheme state police called "Operation: Little Body Shop of Horrors."

Phillip Sessa, 41, of Ventnor, N.J., owner of Philly Collision on Wharton Street near 25th, allegedly conspired with Andrew Yates, a 74-year-old private insurance adjuster, and 11 others to defraud insurance companies of more than $300,000, state police said.

The schemes involved purposefully inflicting damage to cars, aggravating already existing damage, staging crashes and reporting vehicles as lost or stolen when they were not, police said. The schemes ran from 2008 to 2009 and included at least 10 cars, most of which were high-end vehicles like Mercedes Benzes or or Land Rovers according to prosecutors.

Yates, of Gladwyne, an independent contractor hired by insurance companies, allegedly inflated the costs of damage on some vehicles when submitting his findings to insurance companies. The insurance company that took the biggest hit in the scheme was State Farm, police said.

It's unknown what Sessa did with the money he obtained from the scheme, but police said those who allowed their cars to be damaged or who reported them stolen when they were not typically used the insurance money to pay off gambling debts or car loans.