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Parking Lot Rescue Repair Scam Targets Seniors

6:57 PM, Jan 13, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was 11:30 a.m. when 75-year-old Norman Delehanty parked his car in the same area he always parks at the Walmart on Normandy Boulevard.

"I had just put something in the trunk and I hear a voice behind me," he said.

The voice behind him came from a man who claimed he was a mechanic and that he saw something wrong with the front tire on Delehanty's Ford 500.


Delehanty said the man took the wheel off Delehanty's vehicle and told him there was a problem with the brakes and calipers. "He had me get in the car and pump the brakes; then he said he need $120 to buy parts to repair the brakes."

But it was all part of the ruse. The man who claimed he was a master mechanic took the money, and Delehanty said that was the last time he saw him.

Police said Delehanty is one of several victims of the same rescue repair scam involving vehicles and  they're all seniors. "Elderly people get scared, they're a little bit more naive, " said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesperson Melissa Bujeda.

Bujeda said seniors are also trusting.

"They're a little bit more welcoming of these people who are willing to get to help," said Bujeda.

Delehanty lost $120, but learned a valuable lesson, and it has changed his life. "I won't be as trusting. I'm the kind of person who always gives," he said.

Law enforcement reports there are many variations of the parking lot scam.

A Consumer Tip:

To protect yourself, don't just give in to anyone who claims he's a mechanic. If your car won't start or someone tells you it's in trouble, contact a trusted mechanic or, if you're a member, call AAA. 

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