Exposing the Galesburg fake mechanic scam, victims speak out

GALESBURG, Illinois  --  The Galesburg Police Department is warning drivers of a car repair scam that's becoming more popular. The scam is charging for repairs when cars don't even have any damage.

The scammer will flag down drivers and tell them something is wrong with their tire. He suggests the driver pull over and let him take a look, claiming to be a mechanic.

"He sounded real friendly at first," scam victim Cory Marshall said.  "Then it kind of escalated. I felt like I was kind of being threatened."

The man will get out of his car and tell drivers something is loose on the tire and that driving any further is unsafe.

"He just told me that there were a couple of bolts back behind the tire missing," Marshall said. "He just happened to have the bolts with him.”

"He told me my tires are very wobbly," scam victim Madison Shultz said. "He said he didn't think it was safe to drive any further."

In Marshall's encounter with the man, he asked for $375 for "fixing" the tire.

"My heart sank," Marshall said. " I thought I was being robbed for everything I had.”

Scared for his safety, Marshall gave the man all the cash he had on him and drove away.

"I didn’t know if he had a gun in the car," Marshall said.

Marshall took his car to Karmark Tire & Automotive in Galesburg to have it looked at. Marshall says nothing was wrong with the bolts, but he did have the tire completely replaced.

Madison Shultz was also flagged down by the scammer. She says she feels targeted because her small child was in the car and because her tire has a hubcap.

"I don't know much about cars," Shultz said. "He wanted to get in the car with my toddler to show me how it was wobbling. I told him no."

Shultz said she asked for a business card from the man and he didn't have one.

"I almost felt like he was pressuring me, because my child was in the car," she said. "He said it would be $500 at a shop to fix my tire, but he would only charge me $200."

Shultz did not let the man "fix" her tire, but still wants to warn others.

"I fear how it could have turned out if he caught on that I knew he was a fraud," she said.

Galesburg Police say they have received many reports similar to these.

"I would beware of anybody flagging you down telling you that you have damage and offering to fix it for money," Galesburg Police Captain  Rod Riggs said. "I would say thank you to them and I will have it looked at by my own mechanic."

Riggs said that during police investigation they discovered the alleged scammer has Michigan plates. They do not know if the scammer will stay in the Galesburg area for long and suggest other towns be cautious.

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