Uptick in 'Wobbly-wheel scam' attempts reported in SW Houston

HOUSTON – Houston police said there has been an upswing in complaints from drivers who say scammers are targeting them for unneeded repairs.

The scammers pull alongside a driver and flag them down, claiming there appears to be a problem with one of their wheels. Then they offer to repair it, on the spot, at a cut rate, for cash.

It happened to Dominica Simpson on Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of the Southwest Freeway and Kirby Drive.

She was headed home when two women in a car next to her began honking. One of them warned Simpson that her front right wheel was about to fall off.

“She said it was wobbling and about to fall off. She made it sound like if I kept driving, my tire was going to fall off,” Simpson said.

The women followed Simpson to a service station, where one of the other women began inspecting the tire.

That’s when the red flags started going up for Simpson.

First, the woman wanted to drive the car so Simpson could see what was wrong.

“She had told me she worked for AAA. She said that was just the protocol. I have AAA. They never drive my car,” Simpson said.

When Simpson made it clear she wasn’t giving up control of her car, the woman claimed a part needed to be replaced on the wheel, and by chance, she happened to have the part with her.

“She’s like, 'I’ll do it for $200, any shop would do it for $400. You’ll be out in five minutes.' I said if that’s the case, I’d rather take it to an actual shop," Simpson said.

Simpson left the women at the station and drove to a repair shop nearby.

Mechanics couldn't find anything wrong with her car, but the story was familiar.

"They told me three other people came in that day saying something wrong with car, (and there was) nothing wrong with it,” Simpson said.

The shop is the Pep Boys in the 4100 block of Greenbriar.

A mechanic told Channel 2 News that it’s been happening for several days. People come in to have their wheels checked after being stopped by a stranger who offers to repair it on the spot. In every case, there was nothing wrong with the vehicles.