Brooklyn, NY – A scam being perpetrated by local tow-truck companies has motorists on edge.
The New York Post reports (http://bit.ly/SsVxSv) that unscrupulous tow-truck drivers are towing legally parked cars – usually from shopping center parking lots – and hiding the vehicles around the corner out of the line of sight of the owners. The tow drivers then contact the owners and demand $200 for the return of the vehicle. If the owner refuses to pay, the tow driver tells them they will need to retrieve their car from the impound lot for a $100 fee.
This scam is successfully pulled off an estimated 20 times per hour, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Since October 2009, over 50 towing companies have had their licenses yanked and another 19 saw their licenses suspended following an influx of consumer complaints to 311. The worst offender, Fastway Towing & Recovery of Brooklyn, illegally towed over 1,200 cars before going out of business.
“The kind of purposeful fraudulent activity from Fastway has been seen in dozens of other tow companies,” Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz told the Post. “That’s why DCA has responded with such broad and massive investigation, not just to make an example of here and there.”
Because the towing companies only hide the vehicles, but technically do not steal them, they cannot be criminally charged with larceny, the DCA said.