Protecting yourself from car scams

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 12/07/2012 5:09 pm Published: 12/07/2012 4:55 pm

A single mom says she’s out hundreds of dollars and her car.

The trouble started when a friend referred her to a mechanic. Sharae McMinn wants you to hear her story so the same thing doesn’t happen to your family.

"I came over here to this address on Peoria and he claimed to own this business and everything looked legit,” she says.

A friend told her about a local mechanic named Patrick after her transmission started to go out. Patrick told her it would cost $650 to fix her car.

"I tried to pay him with a credit card, but he would not accept anything but cash,” says McMinn.

Nearly two months later, the car sits across the street still not fixed and Sherae is out $650.

'He kept putting me off and he got to where he stopped answering my messages and he quit answering my phone calls,” she says.

FOX23 went to the address of the business where Patrick repaired her car. But the owners of the garage say they barely know him and only let him use their lifts from time to time.

"Sometimes he comes here and that's it, but he does not work for us and he is not working here,” says the owner of the garage.

We tried calling Patrick on his cell phone, but it went straight to his voicemail.

"You got to realize if somebody says to you, I'm a mechanic and I work on vehicles but I don't have my own place and I’m going to borrow somebody else's garage - there is a lot of warning sings in that one sentence,” says Rick Brinkley with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Before you hire anyone to work on your car or your home, the Better Business Bureau says to do your homework. Make sure the company has a proven track record
  • Don’t pay anyone cash up front before the work is finished
  • Don’t just get one referral.
Sharae says the only thing she knows to do now is to try and get her car towed to her house so it doesn’t get vandalized. Police say you can file a report in cases like these, but there’s no guarantee that you would get your money back.

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