SWINDLED: Man boots cars, demands cash as part of scam, woman says

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A suspected scammer claiming to work for a tow company is accused of booting a car in a lot near Plaza Midwood and then demanding the victim pay up.

Christine Guy said she was leaving a club near The Plaza early Sunday morning and discovered that her car was booted in the parking lot near the China Bowl restaurant. Guy said she wasn’t the only one.

“I guess he ran out of boots so he started putting chains and locks around the other tires of the other cars,” Guy said. “He was telling us that we couldn’t park there and that it was $150 to take the boot off the car.”

Guy said a man claiming to be with Parking Enforcement and Recovery told her it would cost extra if she decided to pay with a card. She told Channel 9 there were a few red flags.

“He had no tow truck out there. He had a piece of cardboard box instead of his license plate. You could barely see the tag number. It wasn’t even in black marker or nothing. He told my husband, ‘I lost the tag but I don’t have to explain that to you,’” Guy said.

She talked him down, paid him cash and he gave her a business card with a Florida phone number, Charlotte address and no name.

“We looked up the address and it was another towing company,” she said.

The address on the card actually belonged to Ian Grier, who has a legitimate towing company called Trust Towing and Recovery. He said he has received four complaints in the last year from "customers" he’s never encountered.

“It’s very infuriating. It’s upsetting that people would go through that trouble,” Grier said. “There’s probably been numerous other times that they didn’t call to let us know.”

Channel 9 reporter Stephanie Tinoco called the number on the business card listing Grier’s address. The man claiming to own Parking Enforcement and Recovery hung up the phone when asked to meet for an interview.

Grier said it’s important to always pay attention to signs on the entrance of shopping centers where towing is enforced. Whoever is towing or booting a vehicle should be representing the company on the sign.

“Customers should also Google the company and make sure they’re legitimate,” Grier said. “It’s the law that you would be able to take card and cash as a form of payment. If someone is asking just for cash, that’s a problem.”

Guy reported Trust Towing and Recovery to the Better Business Bureau, thinking that the company was involved in a scam. The bureau has investigated this case and cleared the company’s name because it is not linked to Parking Enforcement and Recovery.

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