LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A warning was issued about rogue tow truck drivers who trick accident victims into signing away their damaged cars, then holding their vehicles until excessively high fees are paid.

The Los Angeles Police Commission and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a not-for-profit group that investigates insurance fraud, said some towing companies use police scanners to find out where wrecks are, then show up and pressure people into turning over their vehicle and a signing a release.

The companies then charge high fees to get their cars back.    “These bandit tow truck drivers are breaking the law by responding without being requested,” said police Lt. Chris Waters of the Police Commission’s Investigation Division.

Tow truck drivers are not supposed to show up at accidents without being requested and are required to release vehicles to their owners 

NICB Special Agent Doreen Sanchez said the tow truck drivers sometimes say they will take the car to a place “of the owner’s choice, but they then take it to an undisclosed body shop that is paying them a kickback.”

The companies charge from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars Sanchez said.

Problems with towing companies should be reported by calling (323) 680- 4TOW. If insurance fraud is suspected, the NICB hotline can be reach at 1-800- TEL-NICB.

NCIB is funded by insurance companies to investigate insurance fraud.

The tow truck scams often involve drivers trying to charge insurance companies for the towing and storage fees.