Victims claim they were 'scammed' by same auto mechanic
Is the state doing enough to protect customers?
ORLANDO, Fla. – Multiple victims say a local auto mechanic promised to fix their car, never did, and in some cases consumers lost thousands of dollars.
"I'm out of a $7,000 car," David Toneff told News 6. "He vandalized it to the point...it's totaled."
Toneff's daughter's 2007 Volkswagen Beetle broke down in Orlando. Toneff said he found L&M Mobile Mechanics & Roadside Inc. online.
[Web extra: File complaint with Department of Agriculture]
He says the owner, Lenny Matranga initially said the charge to fix the radiator hose was $85.
But after towing the vehicle to Matranga's shop, Matranga texted a picture of the car dismantled and said the cost to put it back together would be $800 according to Toneff.
When they refused, it took months to get the car back because Matranga always had a reason why they couldn't pick it up according to Toneff.
They eventually had the car towed from Matranga's shop in Orlando, to their home in Tampa where it has sat inoperable for months.
"He should go to jail for what he's doing," Toneff said. Especially because he's doing this to young college kids."
Nineteen-year-old David May also found Matranga on Google after his Ford F-250 broke down.
May has a receipt where he paid Matranga over $6,500 to fix it.
He too had to have his truck towed away after he says it was never repaired.
"I think he's a scam. I think he's just looking for free easy money," May said.
In Florida, mechanics are registered and regulated by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The state investigated Matranga in 2013 and in July of 2015 following a News 6 investigation.
However the cases were closed because investigators "couldn't find proof the company was open and operating," a spokesperson wrote in an email.
Two months later Matranga ripped May off for thousands of dollars, according to May.
"Is the department doing enough to protect consumers?" News 6 Investigator Louis Bolden asked Aaron Keller, a department spokesperson, during an interview at the Capitol. "I believe we are," Keller said. "Last year we took more than 600 actions against motor vehicle repair companies in Florida, and recovered nearly $200,000 for consumers."
There have been several complaints filed against Matranga, and no action taken against him.
When asked if the department has a responsibility to those consumers, "my heart goes out to them," Keller said.
Toneff says that's not enough. "This is criminal." he said. "He should be shut down at the very least."
We tried to make contact with Matranga on numerous occasions with no luck.
If consumers want to file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture against a mechanic they can do it right here.
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