SCAM ALERT! BBB Warns Of Traveling Scammers In San Diego Area

January 07, 2013

By Rachel Newman 

Traveling scammers, despite what some Disney movies may lead you to believe, are very real and can cause some very real havoc on their victims. These nomads move from town to town offering cheap repairs to consumers. Then, once you agree, they do a sub-standard job and be for you’ve realized it, they have already moved on to a new city.

The BBB must report that the traveling scammers have returned to the San Diego area – just in time for the holidays. This group’s tactic is to catch you while you are in a hurry, rushing to get your holiday shopping done, and sell you on the convenience and affordability of their offer.

Here’s the story:

As recently as last week, an out-of-state vehicle was seen in the Carmel Valley shopping center, cruising the parking lot for cars with dents in the bumper. The travelers then approach the car owners, representing themselves as a mobile bumper repair company, and offer to do the repair on the spot for far less than their insurance deductible while the owners are shopping.

The repair job, which usually runs unsuspecting consumers around $250, is never by any means up to industry standards. The traveling scammers fill the dent with Bondo, or putty, do a very rough sanding job, then get spray paint from an automotive shop and spray over the sanded Bondo. The last step is to put a layer of paste wax over the repair and tell the vehicle owner that it needs to set for 24 hours, at which point it can be wiped/washed off.

The vehicle owner leaves, thinking he/she received a good deal, only to discover that when he/she removes the paste wax (which is completely unnecessary – it is only used to further the scam, so owners can’t see how poor the repair job is right away), the repair finish is terrible and the paint color might be close, but it’s not an exact match. Of course, by this time there is no way the vehicle owner can locate the individuals who perpetrated the scam because they have moved on to the next mall parking lot.

For more information on this scam or other traveler scams, contact your San Diego BBB at or call 858.496.2131.