University of Houston police issue car repair fraud alert for students

By Erica Young - News Producer , Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - The University of Houston Police Department is telling UH students to beware of a trio tricking drivers into paying for car repairs they don't need.

According to campus police, many students have been approached by a man who offered to do repair work on their vehicle for a fee. The man tells victims he noticed a problem with the tire or wheel of their cars. After appearing to make a repair, the man charges a fee.

"This guy drives up to me at a light, on campus and says 'Hey I can fix your car for you,'" said Jessica Crawford.

"The main guy told me, 'I can fix that big dent in the back of your bumper for lets say $180 and I can do it right now,'" said Crawford.

The con artist promises to fix something on your car, they pull out some tools, make some noise, maybe even take a wheel off and put it back, but in the end they are doing nothing.

When it's over, Capt. Bret Collier with the University of Houston Police Department said, "They ask for money, they demand your money on the spot."

This past Monday alone, four college students reported being approached by this gang of three individuals.

They have been seen driving a dark blue, Chevy Silverado. If this group of people approaches you, police said do what Crawford did, and just drive away and then call the campus police.

Students describe the man as white or Hispanic, 30-40 years old. He has black hair, stands approximately 5 foot 8, and weighs about 185 pounds. He was wearing black sweatpants with yellow stripes along the side of the pant legs. He was a passenger in a dark blue 2009 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.

Students said the truck was driven by a second white or Hispanic male of similar age. He had shoulder-length black hair, a long face, and weighs about 150 pounds.

According to students, there was also a woman in the truck. They told police she is white or Hispanic, with tangled brown hair, around the same age as the men. Victims also described her as thin, with sores on her body, and a long scar on her left leg. The woman also had missing teeth.

Campus police said an investigation has revealed that the same group may by operating the same fraud across Houston, and possibly as far away as Galveston.

Victims told investigators that the man who does the repairs presents himself as a representative of Firestone. Police said he may also have official-looking paperwork or business cards.

Students who see the group on campus should call the University of Houston Police Department at 713-743-3333, or call 911 in an emergency.

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