A Central Florida man says a mobile mechanic took hundreds of dollars from him and disappeared. After calling News 6 to investigate it turns out it wasn’t the first time this mechanic has been accused of not making repairs.
Kurtis Smith said he saw the company, DJVV Auto Mobile Mechanic and Towing, advertising mobile mechanic services one day and jotted the number down in case he ever needed it. News 6 found the company advertises on Facebook and on vehicles.
It turns out he did need it.
When Smith’s Dodge Intrepid broke down back in November, he called the number he had seen plastered on the side of a van driving around town. He now says he regrets ever calling.
"I didn't think I'd ever get taken, but I got taken," Smith said.
A representative from the company showed up, inspected the car and told him he needed a camshaft sensor, according to Smith.
Smith said he paid $190 for the part and labor, but then says he was told he needed another part which cost $350.
“I said, I don’t have the money right now I’m going to call my company and see if I can borrow the money,” Smith said.
Smith got a $500 advance from his employer and handed the cash over.
That was the last time he saw the man, which he only knew by his first name, according to Smith.
"He called himself Mike," Smith said.
News 6 learned his name is not Mike.
According to records filed with the State of Florida, DJVV Auto Mobile Mechanic is owned by Lenny M. Matranga.
It is a name News 6 is familiar with and when we showed Smith a picture of Lenny Matranga he immediately recognized him.
“That’s him,” he said.
News 6 previously reported on Matranga in 2015, when he was operating a company called L & M mobile mechanics.
Over the course of a year-and-a-half, numerous people came forward saying Matranga took their money and never fixed their vehicles, including David Toneff.
“I’m out a $7,000 car. He vandalized it to the point it’s totaled,” Toneff said.
Many of those people filed complaints with the state.
The state investigated Matranga in 2013 and 2015 after a News 6 investigation but the cases were closed because “they couldn’t find proof the company was open and operating,” according to state records.
Two months later, 19-year-old David May came forward saying Matranga ripped him off for $6,500.
"I think he's just looking for free easy money," May said.
The last news 6 report on Matranga was in April 2016.
Four months later, according to state records, Mantranga started a new company DJVV Auto Mobile Mechanic.
The online reviews paint a similar picture.
One person wrote they paid $2,000, the company cashed their checks and never did the job.
Another person wrote Matranga charged $4,500 on their credit card for a storage facility and Uber and left their truck in pieces in their apartment parking lot.
“He needs to be put out of business,” Smith said. “He should be put out of business because this is fraud. He’s taking people’s money and he’s not performing the services he said he was going to render.”
Smith and others contacted law enforcement but were all told it was a civil matter.
News 6 spoke to Matranga by phone.
He said he does not recall any of these situations, but if he owes someone money, he says he will try to repay them.
If that happens we will update the story.
The state of Florida has no certification for mechanics, however, most reputable shops require their mechanics to be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence also known as ASE.
The certification should be prominently displayed, and even mobile mechanics should be able to produce it.