Couple out $500; warns others of self-described ‘mobile mechanic’

Posted at 8:39 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 20:39:23-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- You don't have to be a mechanic to tell Walter Whitlock's truck has a squeaky suspension.

"It's very, very noticeable," Whitlock said.

The 71-year-old said Frank Dizonno Jr. offered to fix it. In late August, Whitlock and his wife said they pulled into a restaurant parking lot in Kalamazoo, and Dizonno followed them inside.

"He come up to us and convinced us that he was a mechanic and that he has a mobile repair service, where they come out to your home with all the equipment," Whitlock recalled.

He said Dizonno, who was a stranger, convinced them that he's cheaper than an auto repair shop.

"So we wrote him off a check for $500... on the spot. So he could get the parts," Whitlock said.

But Whitlock said that was the first and last time he heard from Dizonno, and when he tried to get in touch with him, Dizonno's cell phone number no longer worked.

"Maybe somebody hit him on the head and maybe he's got amnesia," Whitlock said.

So to refresh Dizonno's memory, Whitlock reached out to the FOX 17 17 Problem Solvers. He hoped to get his money back, but he also wants to warn others.

The Problem Solvers did some digging and found Dizonno has a lengthy criminal record in Michigan and Florida. Charges range from theft to weapons violations.

Most recently, in August , the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office arrested him for shoplifting. A surveillance photo provided by the sheriff's office allegedly shows Dizonno stealing supplies from a hardware shop.

Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau of West Michigan, said this is the perfect example of why you need to do a background check on a business.

"To me, it's a lot like somebody knocking on your door asking to come in and work on something on your house. They put you in physical, potential risk, and you have no idea the credibility of their background in terms of whether you should trust them or not," Catlett said

The Problem Solvers left a message on another number recovered for Dizonno and visited a couple of last known addresses. A former neighbor said Dizonno had been looking for a place to stay after getting kicked out of a trailer this summer. But Whitlock isn’t giving up.

"So, we're out $500 and some egg on our face, and we'd like some restitution," Whitlock said.

Whitlock filed a police report and said he plans to press charges.