By Christopher Sheldon
A Long Branch public adjusting company has plead guilty to charges that it had been submitting fraudulent insurance claims to attempt to defraud New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company (NJM) out of more than $15,000.
Northeast Claims Group, LLC has agreed to be dissolved and has agreed to have its New Jersey public adjuster license revoked. The company has also agreed to pay a $7,500 criminal fine.
Northeast's sole owner and member Joseph Shammah, 40, of West Long Branch, also agreed to the revocation of his public adjuster’s license. Shammah was admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which does not include a guilty plea.
Shammah was charged as a result of an undercover sting investigation dubbed “Operation Home Makeover,” which took place in 2012.
The investigation was aimed at exposing fraudulent insurance practices employed by public adjusters in their negotiations with insurance companies throughout New Jersey. A public adjuster is an intermediary between an insured and his or her insurance company who is hired by an insured after an event of loss causes damage to the insured’s covered property.
Shammah acted as Northeast Claim Group’s representative for the plea and sentencing. Acting on behalf of Northeast Claims Group, Shammah admitted that between April 1 and Aug. 3, 2012, the company made false statements regarding the damage in order to obtain approximately $15,452 from the NJM to which it was not entitled.
The Department of Banking and Insurance signed a consent order revoking the public adjuster license for Shammah and Northeast Claims Group, LLC. The Department also levied $8,000 in civil penalties and surcharges.