County police warn against auto body repair scams

November 24, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff Writer

County police are warning people to be wary of car body repair scams because of two recent incidents, one involving an 83-year-old Pasadena woman who was bilked out of $2,700.

According to the police report, a man pulled up beside a woman in the parking lot of the Giant grocery store on Americana Circle Thursday and told her he could fix the damage to her 1971 Impala. The woman withdrew $2,700 from her bank and gave it to the man before the pair exchanged phone numbers and addresses.

A few days later, the man called the woman and told her his mother was in the hospital with cancer and he would not be able to fix her car. He said he would come to her home and refund the money.

When the man didn't show up, the woman called police. Officers found that the man had given the woman a false name, address and phone number.

"In any type of flim-flam situation the best protection is information," said Lt. Hank Snow, who heads the county police Intelligence Unit. "Always ask questions and seek out information. Legitimate people will not hesitate to provide any information."

Lieutenant Snow said these types of thieves prey on vulnerable people and choose their victims carefully.

"They like to get in and out and create confusion before anyone knows what has happened," he said. "If there is any doubt, don't enter into any business agreement."

On Sunday, a 35-year-old woman was approached at the Sunoco station at Crain Highway and Hospital Drive by a man who offered to do body work on her car for $150, police said.

The woman was suspicious because the lowest estimate she had received from body shops for the work was $500. She turned down the man's offer but got his name and phone number.

Police believe the incidents are related.

"We think they are several people working together," said Officer Terry Robey, a police spokeswoman.

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