Posted by Pattie on 7/07/2011 09:34:00 AM

I've had a few people ask me if I can reveal more about what happened. I will give you an update, but there is an investigation and I am in the process of small claims so at the moment I cannot reveal all.

The scam was a local mobile mechanic who claims to be licensed and insured but is not. He came to my home to look at my van. I described the repair work that had been done. He told me that something needed to be done that I found out later was just another way of saying what had already been done. He asked for cash up front. I paid. He removed a part from my van to be rebuilt. Then he disappeared for 9 days giving me all kinds of lame excuses as to why he could not come back.

I became suspicious and finally confronted him and told him if he didn't come and fix my van by noon the next day, I would be calling my lawyer and then whoever the lawyer suggested.

He showed up at 2p the next day and installed what turned out to be the same thing he took off only spray painted with a non-fuel-resistent paint sprayed OVER dirt (it was gritty). He didn't even put it back together correctly because it didn't work and it was working before. The van was running when he started work on it and he left it not running and demanding that I pay him more money to redo a repair that I had already told him had been done.

He didn't count on the fact that I knew more about cars than most laypersons (especially most women), though I obviously didn't know enough and got scammed anyway. He left saying I had to redo a repair that only had 5K miles on it or he wouldn't honor the "warranty." There was no warranty I have a receipt.

Now that I know what he did, he is insisting that because I had someone else clean up his mess that he cannot give me my money back because he cannot honor the warranty. Again, what warranty? He claims it was rebuilt by a "specialist" and he cannot get his money back, but, of course, he's not offering me the difference between what he claims to have paid for the rebuild and what he charged me for the installation. He has offered no proof that this specialist exists or offered to do anything to make this right.

I have reported him to the DMV investigative division(in Nevada, all mechanic and garage fraud cases are investigated by the DMV) and it turns out they have a case file on him already. From what I can gather from the net, he preys on stranded motorists, women and disabled persons. I have a disabled tag on my van.

I think his scam is to do a series of repairs with the last one fixing the vehicle and the person usually paying many times more than they should for the thing that needed to be done. Not knowing they have been duped, they write glowing reports about him on the net (of course some of those reports could be written by him and his friends). I think I messed him up by calling him on it before he could fix it finally.

I gave him $470 to do the spray paint job on something that didn't need fixing. Because he re-assembled it incorrectly, I had to pay another $135 to fix what he did. So I'm suing him for $605. Not much in some people's world but that's about 2/3of the extra money I made this semester that I set aside to have the van repaired. So to me it was a lot of money and summer is THE worst time to have a set back as I do not have any work right now and can't draw unemployment as a summer break teacher. (Subject for another rant.)

So once I am done with the legal entanglements with this guy I will definitely (if I'm allowed to do so) tell everyone his name. Hopefully, though, when all this is over he will be behind bars where he belongs. At the very least, he will not be out on the road taking advantage of vulnerable people.

By the way, on the emotional side of this, as soon as I heard from the DMV that they knew him and were investigating him, I felt vindicated. I know that if someone like me could be taken in by this guy (and he is a smooth talker until you call him on his shit, then he is a mean sonofabitch), that almost anyone could be taken. I couldn't sit back and let him keep doing this.

I've moved from embarrassed and feeling stupid to kick-ass mad-as-hell. Oh, and it feels a lot better.

If you live in southern Nevada (or northwest AZ or southeast CA) and are considering a mobile mechanic, please email me and I will let you know who he is and also give you a recommendation for the guy who helped me fix this mess and get my van to pass smog and get back on the road.


Eselle said...

Hello again from the other side of the Mojave!

I'm very sorry because I know what it is like to be in need and have to do without. It must feel especially bad because you did provide for yourself and had it stolen from you by this grifter.

The one good thing I see is that your encounter may be the one that tips the scales with the DMV's case against him. I hope it gets him jailed.

On the civil case you brought, you may get a judgement against him for your money back, too. :D

I don't know if the universe works this way or not, but I can't help thinking that maybe getting him off the street was at least part of the purpose of this encounter. It just sucks that it cost you so much in so many ways.

Pattie said...

Thanks Eselle -- I'm gathering info right now to send demand letter via my attorney (pre-paid legal).

I'm not sure if the universe works that way or not either, but I will tell you this, I feel much better knowing I can put this experience to good use and maybe do a little good.

skeptyk said...

Thanks for reminding folks that scamsters are out there, and that it is important to publicize them. Too few people ever report when they have been scammed because they feel foolish.

I am surprised that you feel he should be behind bars, though. Very few people belong in cages, IMO. We need a serious program of restitutive justice, sentences of service, garnishing wages - to be paid to, for instance in this guys case, CILs (center for independent living), electronic monitoring, adequate probation systems, real protection for and compensation of victims, and many other creative ways of dealing with those who cheat, steal, hurt others.

Putting people in cages is mostly absurd, but since it is normalized absurdity, and since prisoners are "other" and out of sight, most people in modern US culture neither think about nor care what happens to "them". Sentences of "locked up" are appropriate for only a violent few. Prisons are extremely expensive and do little or nothing to contribute to public safety or justice. Prisons destroy the prisoners' access to family and community and work and education that are so often the means of rehabilitation and good citizenship for excarcerated folks.

I encourage folks to think outside the boxes that are prisons, just as I encourage them to think outside the box about fat. And it is a slog, because fatphobia is the sea we are swimming in, so unexamined that it is hard for most folks to even hear what we are saying. Likewise, it is disconcerting for many folks to even hear any of the arguments of prison abolitionism or massive reform.

There are other ways to deal with thieves and grifters than jails, and other ways to deal with even much violent crime than years of caging in bizarre, dehumanizing communities that are prisons.

Just my few cents. People toss out phrases about "behind bars where he belongs" a lot too glibly, rarely considering what the reality does to all of us.

Pattie said...

Just to be clear, I wasn't just tossing the term around. I believe he has committed several felonies under Nevada law, probably several counts. I said it to make it clear that he is not "just a bad business man" but a criminal. While I would gain some personal satisfaction in his suffering (yeah, I'll admit it), I mostly want him to just stop hurting people.

Having said that, you make some excellent points and, in general, I believe that the police state tendancies that the US has increasingly shown in the past 40 years have the rising prison population at the heart of it. In many ways, as Angela Davis said, all prisoners are political prisoners.