A new type of scam artist is reportedly targeting Houstonians where, because of traffic, some spend more time than their homes: their cars.
Police are warning drivers about con artists who attempt to convince drivers their car is experiencing mechanical problems, then isolating and intimidating them into giving them cash for non-existent parts.
Last month, a 75-year-old man reportedly became the victim of this scam, leading police to believe the crooks may be targeting other vulnerable drivers.
The “Wobbly Wheel” scam is fairly simple:
According to investigators, the victim drives down the street, unaware of any problems with their vehicle.
Another driver pulls up alongside them, tries to get their attention and warns them that one of their wheels is so wobbly it’s about to fall off and potentially cause an accident.
The worried victim then pulls over to a gas station or auto parts store and meets the scammers, where con artists convince the victim that they can fix the problem “for free,” as long as the victim buys the parts.
They take the victim to an ATM, where the victim withdraws the cash to pay for the non-existent parts and non-existent problem.
In some cases, police say the crooks will intimidate or threaten the victim if they don’t hand over the cash.
While none of the incidents involving this scam mentioned any violence by the scammers, some criminals may use the tactic to get the victim out of their car and threaten them if they don’t comply.
Authorities are warning these con artists may also target drivers who are alone or vulnerable, including the elderly.
Police are warning drivers not to pull over for other drivers who attempt to get their attention this way.
Most drivers understand, if any problem with the car would be so obvious from the outside, it should be just as obvious to the driver.
If you would like to share information on incidents like these, contact your local police or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.