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Customers Smell a Rat, Shop Owner Gets Jail Time

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Customers who were told rats damaged their vehicles weren’t too happy, and now the guy who put them there will pay the price – a long jail term.

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Mehran Baranriz, 47, owner of Group Specialists, a car repair shop in Redwood City, Calif., pleaded no contest to 10 counts of insurance fraud and got a four-year prison sentence. His wife, Bita Imani, 35, pleaded no contest to felony tax evasion.

The pair were charged with bilking customers by putting rats in their cars and claiming that the vehicles needed costly work repair the resulting damage – which they then didn’t perform. In fact, the couple were buying rats, killing them and planting them in customers’ cars, according to the county district attorney.

Baranriz billed 25 insurance companies for 236 claims over four years for work that was never performed, according to the county district attorney. The couple were ordered to pay $825,000 in restitution to the insurance companies.

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