JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Recently, Jessica Wright was leaving the grocery store and ran into car trouble.
"My car was running fine the day before; I went to St. Augustine and it was running fine. I get back in my car, I was in there 20-25 minutes and my car wouldn't start," said Wright.
Wright said she was approached by a persistent good Samaritan who offered to repair her vehicle for a fee. But really, she was being targeted by a scam artist.
"This guy came up to me three times and kept trying to push himself on me, 'I'll help you, I'll help you'. I said 'no, my husband is a mechanic', " she said.
ON YOUR SIDE
Wright said when her husband inspected her car he discovered wires to the fuel system were disconnected. "I was like, 'there's no way it could have come apart?' He said, 'no, it snaps in there; someone had to undone it'," said Wright.
Mark Fleming, who runs BLC Automotive, said several of his customers were targets of the good Samaritan scheme; all were women. "In the last three weeks, there have been three customers that come in with the same complaint," he said.
Fleming said the incidents reported to him that all happened in public parking lots around the 103rd Street, Blanding Boulevard area.
The car tampering scheme works like this: The person slides under the vehicle, while the owner is in a store, and disables it, said Fleming.
"They just reach up and disconnect the fuel pump and your car is not going to start. They come back and talk to the customer; they obviously know what the problem is," he said.
Fleming said while they're knowledgeable and helpful, the goal of the car tampering scheme is to get you to pay them to fix a problem they created.
The message to consumers?
"Beware of anybody that approaches you if your car won't start and you haven't been having any problems," said Fleming.
"Get a license number if you can a good description and please call the police immediately."
Fleming encouraged his customers to file police reports, they have not.
There are good Samaritans, but if someone is trying to make unexpected repairs to your vehicle, that is a red flag that you may be the target of this car tampering scheme and it is time to call someone you trust.
First Coast News