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Scam artist dents car, then gets Burnaby woman to pay for him to fix it

Witness stepped forward to call out fraud
DentedCarGettyImagesWEB
Auto accident leaving a huge dent in the left front quarter panel.

Delores, a Burnaby senior, didn’t realize she had a dent in her car until a “very charming” young man pointed it out to her.

She was coming out of a Kensington Plaza store and had just gotten to her car when the man told her about the dent.

“He took me around the back of my car and there was a small dent in it,” she said.

The man then said he could “fix” the dent on the spot because he worked at a repair shop and wouldn’t charge much money.

“But he wanted money upfront and said I should go shopping some more while he did it,” Delores said. “He didn’t want me to watch. That’s when I started to get suspicious.”

It turned out to be a scam – a scam that the Better Business Bureau has warned people about in the past.

While she was trying to make up her mind, a middle-aged man came up to her and accused the man of making the dent himself.

“He said he saw the young man around the back of my car for a few minutes,” she said. “That’s when (the young man) threw up his hands and walked away.”

The BBB says it has received reports about persuasive strangers claiming to “fix” dents in your vehicle.

“When getting in or out of your vehicle, stay alert to the following tactics and avoid falling prey to this scam,” says a news release.

How the Scam Works

Someone approaches you in the parking lot of a store stating they noticed dents on your car. It just so happens that they work at a body shop and can fix them for you. They promise to charge a significantly reduced fee, and can even make the repairs on the spot while you are shopping. They might go as far as to say that you are supporting their small business, and that they have to seek out repair jobs in this way so they can stay open. However, if you agree to the repairs, you will more than likely end up with a ruined car exterior. 

“He was ‘fixing’ my car while I was in the store shopping,” wrote one scam victim. “When I came out, he had drilled a bunch of holes into the body of my car. He told me it was standard procedure to drill holes in order to pull out the dent. Then, he put a black putty thing all over the holes and told me not to take off the putty until 24 hours later. When I tried to take off the putty, it looked worse than before."

According to the descriptions submitted to BBB ScamTracker, when people questioned the work or the cost of the repairs, the individual appeared to become aggressive and tried to intimidate them. 

BBB recommends the following tips to avoid repair scams:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers. This kind of scam starts with someone who just happened to drive by and notice the car needed a repair. If you are approached by a stranger in a parking lot offering repair services of any kind, be careful, ask questions, and think twice before agreeing to a repair job with no quality guarantees.
  • Don’t fall for high pressure sales tactics. Scammers will often pressure their target to accept their offer, and demand full payment upfront with a statement that the person will never get a better price anywhere else. Additionally, they only have time to do the repairs at that moment. High pressure, now-or-never sales tactics are a hallmark of scams.
  • Research repairmen and repair shops before you do business. Look up reviews and business ratings of any repair person or company before agreeing to any service. If you are dealing with an individual repairman, take a business card, and offer to check out the company they say they are representing to see if it is in fact legitimate and has positive customer reviews. Ask for references to call and verify the quality of their work. If the person cannot wait for you to research and compare companies, find someone else to do the job.

 

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