Mother and Son Warn of Auto Body Scam After Parking Lot Scare
By Matt Wendland
A family trip to the local grocery store took a frightening turn, Thursday evening, after a mother and son were the victims of what they claim was an “auto body scam” within the Burien Fred Meyer parking lot.
According to the mother and her 20-year-old son who asked to remain anonymous, the incident started at about 6:45pm while the two were putting gas in their 2000 Toyota Camry. They claim to have been approached by two men who also seemed to be customers at the grocery chain’s gas station. The men said they noticed a large dent on the driver’s side of the Camry's back bumper and that they could easily fix it. After a quick walk around the car, the two men also pointed out number of scratches on the front of the car and a crack in the back bumper that could easily fixed.
“The two of them were very friendly…” the mother reported. “They told me they worked for K&B or J&B Auto Body and had extra product left from a job they had just finished” she continued. The men told the victims that they could fix the dent, scratches and crack for $99 and the process would only take a few minutes. “I had recently had the damage looked at and the shop I took it to said it would cost $900 to replace the dented bumper alone. $99 seemed like it was worth the chance.”
Once the mother agreed to let them try to fix the car for $99 and moved the vehicle to the northwest corner of the parking lot, the two men drove over a “silver and blue van” and went right to work. Identified as Joseph, a tall, thin man with curly dark hair and brown eyes wearing sweat pants and a bulky jacket, and George, a heavy set, tall man who was balding with dark curly hair, brown eyes and a round face and nose, wearing a striped shirt and sweat pants, were able to finish the job in only a few minutes. The scratches were quickly fixed with a few sprays of a chemical in a can. The dent in the bumper was fixed with a few tools and a blow torch. The crack in the bumper was supposedly fixed and drying under tape, but the mother and son noticed that the men had used super-glue on the crack before putting tape over it.
Pleased with the brevity and completion of the work, the mother said she was happy to pay the $99. “They really did know what they were doing, except for the super-glue… I couldn’t believe how fast they were able to get the dent out and that was what I really cared about” she recounted.
Once the work was done, the mother sent her son and George into the store to get cash for payment. The turn for the worse came when the two returned and the men demanded that she pay $200 for the work. “When he said $200, I told him that he has said it would only be $99… When I only gave him $100, George got mad and cornered me. He was yelling and threatening us and saying that I had better give him another $100 to cover supplies… I didn’t know what to do so I looked at the other man and said “You know this is wrong! Tell him to stop!” Then Joseph told him to take it easy. He told me to throw him another $20 so he would let me go. I was scared so I did it and then we hopped in the car and drove away as fast as we could.” While the men let the mother and son go, she reported that the large man, George, was yelling and threatening her all the way until they were in the car and driving away. “I thought they were going to chase us down, but they didn’t follow us.”
In an interview with the 20-year-old son, a high school graduate from a Highline school and a graduate from a local college, he described the two men as the kind of con men from the movies. “The skinny man was the driver and did the work and the big guy was the smooth talking friendly one… I don’t think we were ever really in danger but they were definitely trying to scare us into giving them more money. If they hadn’t tried to pull a scam at the end, we would have told all of our friends about how good the work they did was but then they had to try to scam us.”
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else around here. People need to know that these men are a scam and shouldn’t be trusted… This was terrifying and it made me so sad that these people, who could do such good work for people, try to scam instead” the mother said at the end of her interview.
The mother and son left the Fred Meyer parking lot just before 7:30pm. The mother called the police but no arrests were made.
A woman and young child, who the victims believed were related to the man who identified himself as Joseph, were said to have been waiting in the silver and blue van while the men worked on the Camry.
Neither Joseph nor George were reachable at the phone numbers they provided to the victims to prove their legitimacy.
The shop that the men claimed to work at does not exist locally.