TACOMA, Wash. — An 83-year-old Pierce County grandmother told police she was scammed by phony mechanics, but she didn’t know she was being swindled until it was too late.
The elderly woman says she was swindled out of hundreds of dollars. She asked Q13 News to not identify her or show her face on television because she said she is too embarrassed.
“It hurts that somebody takes advantage of you,” she said.
Her son Richard said he is also upset about what happened.
“To take advantage of my mom’s good nature, and just use that against her,” he said.
It happened Tuesday afternoon while the woman was driving on Center Street.
The woman says strangers got her attention and told her something was wrong with her tire.
“They kept honking the horn and the second time I looked, they were next to me and they told me there was something wrong with my rear tire,” said the grandmother.
After she pulled over she said the strangers popped the hood and began inspecting her engine. The bad news, the stranger said, something was broken, but the good news was that they could fix it.
She said the strangers asked for $750, but she said she could only pay $500 and she would have to get it from her bank.
“Why they do this to me?” she told Q13 News. “I’m a stranger, I believed them when they told me I had a wobbly tire.”
After she gave the strangers the money, she said the phony mechanics took off. The victim said she didn’t call police until her son found out what happened.
“I’m very grateful all they got was the $500 and they didn’t do anything else or get more,” Richard said.
Police said investigators want anyone else who may have been targeted by these crooks to come forward.
“People on the side of the road that charge you money to fix your car are probably not legitimate mechanics, and this probably is a scam,” said Tacoma police officer Loretta Cool.
“I hope you get caught whoever you are,” said Richard. “I hope you get everything that’s coming to you.”
Tacoma police say they’ve gotten several reports of similar situations—and their advice is simple.
Cops said drivers should take their car to a trusted mechanic and never pay someone they just met on the street.
“These people are very good at acting like they’re fixing something,” said Cool. “They would be great actors on TV, but the bottom line they’re not fixing anything on your car because nothing’s wrong with it.”
Not only is the grandmother out the $500, Richard said he’s not sure if the phony mechanics did any damage to her vehicle. Now they have to figure out how much it’s going to cost to have a legitimate mechanic take a look and repair anything that might be broken.