Lake Forest woman warns of workers who caused $4K damage to Mercedes

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (KABC) -- A Lake Forest woman said she was scammed by men offering to do body work on her Mercedes C-300, but left thousands of dollars worth of damage to the vehicle.

Karin May said two men posed as body shop workers and approached her on July 30 at about 2 p.m. She had some smaller key scratches on her vehicle that she wanted removed.

"One was wearing a Toyota shirt and the other was wearing a Lexus shirt and they said this is what they do for a living," recalled May.

She said the men insisted a dealership would charge her up to $5,000 and they would only ask for $700.

The men were convincing, according to May, and one even brought out a photo album to show her before and after photos of work he said he had done on other luxury cars.

May said one of the men went by the name "Miller" and he gave her his phone number. She arranged for him to come the next day and handed him $700 after seeing the work finished.

"It looked great to me. I thought it was repaired. The key mark was gone," she said.

May said he left a waxy substance on the car and told her to let it sit overnight. But when she took it to the car wash the next day, she said it wasn't just the wax, but the paint had also started to come off.

"I was just nauseated with what I saw," she said. "Breaks my heart...It's horrible."

May said the car wash attendant told her he had seen other cars come in with the same damage. She tried to reach Miller, and so did ABC7, but with no luck.

The 1-year-old car is leased and May said it will cost her nearly $4,000 to fix the damage.

She filed a report with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, but authorities said because it was a verbal contract, it was a civil matter, not criminal.

"You should always either ask for a business card or ask for a phone number," stressed Lt. Mark Stichter with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Stichter said to call the company to verify the person is who they claim and ask for references.

Also, watch out for huge discount offers.

"Thousands of dollars difference, that should be a huge red flag," said Stichter. "The person is probably not legitimate."

May said she doesn't think she'll get her money back, but she wants to warn others.

"I want people to know these guys are out there," she said. "They're likable, they act credible. I now have a $4,000 mess on my hands."
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.