The bad guys are out there trying to prey on the uninformed and the trusting. These are a few of the current auto repair scams that are making news around the country. Keep in mind these incidents of fraud rise to a higher level of boldness and operate with little or no overhead but with an ample supply of fiendishness.
In Lynn, Massachusetts, Itemlive reported that a group of men were patrolling retail parking lots and pointing out dents and scratches to car owners. They then suggested that they could repair the car inexpensively. Using the explanation that the police would not allow repairs to be made in the parking lot, the victims were asked for the keys. Once the scam artist has the keys, the vehicle is removed to another location, where it is essentially held hostage until the owner pays for additional expensive repairs.
In Roswell, Georgia, police indicted a man who identified women who drove cars that were at least ten years old and then followed them in to the parking lot of the supermarket. As reported by WSB-TV, the man would then point out some fictitious problem with their car and offer to repair it on the spot. He is alleged to have bilked his mostly elderly targets out of thousands of dollars.
Police in Greenwich, Connecticut, are looking for a duo that had been approaching seniors, suggesting repairs to cars that they said were unsafe to drive. According to Greenwich Time, they would then offer to repair the car or drive the unsafe car and the victim to a dealership for repairs. In one confirmed incident the police said the perpetrators tried to convince a lady to withdraw $800 from an ATM to fund the repair. When the lady became upset, she was dropped off at a dealership unharmed.
The elderly and parking lots seem to be the common denominators in all of these cases. Mix in some lack of auto knowledge, the desire to be safe and a need to resolve things cheaply and quickly, and you can understand why these schemes are successful. A police officer interviewed by WSB-TV in Georgia probably gave the soundest advice, saying to politely thank the party pointing out the problems with the car, and take it to your own mechanic.[Itemlive, WSBTV Greenwich Time]