I was just the victim of a con artist at the Vons parking lot. Boy, do I feel stupid!
I pulled into the parking space with the kids in the car, to get some groceries. Some guy in his early 20's was driving past (in an older white car)and rolled down his window and said "excuse me, ma'am, I couldn't help noticing your dent. I work at a body shop and today's my day off. I've got my tools in the trunk and I could fix that really easily."
I said "Okay, sure, give me your card and I'll think about it."
He then proceed to tell me that he was usually really busy working, today was his day off but that it would be easy for him to fix and he could do it for only $80. He then jumped out of the car, got out some tools from the trunk and said he was going to show me how he could easily pull it out without taking the door off. He introduced me to the people in the car, his father, sister and kids. He said that it would only take a few minutes, then his father also got out and they started drilling a hole in the car! :(
I said "Hey, what are you doing?!" I told him that I didn't have $80 and I hadn't told him to do that, and he said they said "you won't even see this when we're done, it just how we access it" and that I wouldn't have to pay them if I wasn't satisfied, and that there was an ATM nearby. He was also going to give me his business card and his personal phone # in case I had any questions or problems. I somehow got suckered into agreeing to pay $60 for it and he promised it would look good as new when they finished.
Which I doubted, but felt afraid, because two guys with sledgehammers were now standing next to my now-damaged car and I was alone with my 2 children. So I went to get the money and when I came back and went to pay them, he pretended we had agreed on $160, and wanted $100 more and started to get mad. I told him my husband used to work for the DA and I could get him there to settle this! Suddenly $60 was fine with him and he was in a hurry to leave.
I asked him why there was still a dent (which now had some white substance on it) and he went on and on about how they had filled the holes with matching clear coat which would not show, and applied a special cream which would "pull out the dent" after sitting on it for a few hours, but was very toxic, so I shouldn't touch it or let the kids or any pets near it until it dried. When it turned blue, it was done "curing" and I could wipe it off.Of course I didn't believe there was any substance that could do that, but I was also starting to be afraid of them. And he had suddenly run out of business cards but jotted down what was supposedly his name, "John" and #, on a piece of paper.
So, they "pulled" the previous dent but left another new one and 2 drilled holes, and they took $60 and made me feel threatened with my small children in my arms.
My husband is really mad at me for falling for this one but the whole thing started off innocently...it was the drilling holes in my car part that got me sucked in and afraid. Yikes!
I tried to call Pacific Division to report it, but couldn't get a live person on the phone. Called our Senior Lead Officer on his cell phone and he said that since I had agreed to give them money (I did feel coerced, though! Come on, someone standing next to you and your kids with a sledgehammer in their hands!) then it becomes a business transaction rather than a crime, that I would have to go in person to report it to the detectives in the West LA Fraud division. I have a photo of the guy's back license plate, it was a white older model car, Buick maybe?
Yeah, I guess one day I will look back on this and laugh. But right now I feel really sick to my stomach about it and it doesn't seem very funny! Just wanted to post this because I'm *usually* pretty street-wise (I tend toward my New Yorker attitude of being in a hurry and not even interacting at all with strangers in a parking lot let alone falling for this kind of thing.) So anyway, be on the lookout and don't even engage with these kind of people and certainly don't get suckered by them!