PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A North Philadelphia towing company is accused of ripping off drivers and insurers. Police say the owners of Hooked Inc., 47-year-old Joseph Moreno and 29-year-old Dwight Williams, both of Philadelphia, surrendered to police last month. Williams and Moreno were charged with racketeer influence and corrupt organization, theft by deception, deceptive practices and insurance fraud.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office argues Hooked Inc. would essentially hold victims’ cars for ransom money. And its tow truck operators allegedly did whatever it took to get the victim of a crash to sign the dotted line that would allow Hooked Inc. to tow their car.
“In one victim’s case, while in the ambulance, a tow operator approached this woman driver and said she had to sign the top slip to remove the car from the road,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
That is just one of the several examples Krasner laid out today when announcing the charges against Hooked Inc. and its co-owners.
“Might as well be known as ‘Hooked on Greed,’” Krasner added.
Hooked Inc. is located on the 2200 block of West Moreland Street in the city’s Tioga section. But prosecutors say this lot was used in an elaborate scheme, where the men would inflate vehicle storage prices.
In many cases, prosecutors say they would chase car wrecks and target crash victims who are fully insured, then gouge the insurance company.
“They are looking for specific cars,” Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Dawn Holtz said. “So if you’re in a minor accident, they’re probably going to drive right by you.”
“I don’t want the insurance companies telling me whose being price-gouged,” attorney William Brennan said. “Although they’re probably experts at it.”
Brennan represents Hooked Inc. and plans to fight every charge.
“You’ve got a legitimate company run by legitimate fellows, pillars of the community who should be given the benefit of the doubt. There should be no rush to judgment here,” Brennan said.
“These guys do a dangerous job in emergency situations and they charge fair prices,” Brennan added.
The district attorney’s office says if you are involved in a crash and need a tow truck, the first thing you should do is call 911 and ask police for help getting a tow truck.
Also, take photos of any vehicles at a crash site, including the tow trucks.