CHICAGO (CBS) — Buyers say they have gone to an auto auction in south suburban Harvey to get a used car for a good price – only to get ripped off by the seller.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker took undercover cameras inside to expose the operation. She found a guy there selling cars who we’ve run into before.
Tyronae Atkins hoped to get a sweet deal on her first car. She struggled to save money all summer.
“It was a lot of hard work and dedication. Had to stop going out with friends, sacrifice things,” she said.
She thought she found a bargain at the First Marshall Auto Auction in Harvey.
“An ‘07 black Nissan Maxima. I was like, yeah, that’s the car. They were like, alright, we’ll give it to you for $1,800,” said Atkins.
She handed over $600 in cash for the down payment. Hours later – a surprise. Atkins and her mom, Tabatha West, discovered the amount owed was hundreds higher.
“I’m like I need to know how the price of this car went from $1,800 to $3,100 total,” said West.
She added, “We left frustrated, feeling ripped off, pretty much like we got robbed.”
We wanted to know how that could happen. So we took our hidden cameras inside the auction. We found the sleight of hand starts when you sign in.
“This is for you,” says one employee as he hands us the disclosure document.
You only get about one minute to read the 752 words in the 20-item “Terms of Auction” form. It’s handed to you wrapped inside a brochure. Most people don’t even look at it. Atkins and West said they didn’t get any time to read it.
“And, they didn’t say to be sure to read it or anything,” said West.
Customers do get to look over the cars, step inside, even peek under the hood. But nothing more, according to one employee.
We asked whether the public can start the cars and he responded, “No.”
When the auction starts, there’s a lot of whistling and waving that can distract you from what the auctioneer is saying First Marshall is not responsible for.
The man we saw calling the shots, running the show, the ringmaster is Khaldoon Shakir. Seconds before the whistling and waving he was the one who gave the signal for the auction to start.
As each car rolls through, the fast-talking auctioneer ratchets down the price second by second.
One buyer we ran into said the bid started at “$4,000 for it. Got it down to $1,500.” He thought he got a good deal. Buyers like him think they’ve hit the jackpot. Until the fun of the show turns to frustration by the end of the night.
“I should have called the f—- police,” said one disgruntled customer afterwards.
Mike Nurceski knows a few things about cars – he owns an auto repair shop. He says he likes to treat his customers well and take care of them. The night he went to the First Marshall Auto Auction he saw many unhappy customers.
“A lot of people that night were screaming and yelling,” he told us.
Nurceski bid $12,200 on three cars and put down $2,400 in cash. By the end of the night it was the same story. He got a shockingly higher final bill.
“I said you stole my money. Then I get mad and I said, I don’t want none of your cars. Give me all my money back,” Nurceski said.
Atkins also wants her money back. At least an explanation of the $3,100 price tag.
She asked someone at the auction, “Can you explain to me where the other fees came from?”
We tried to figure out their mystery math. We added up the sales tax and all the fees noted in item 14. Our total? $2710 — nearly $400 short of the auction’s amount.
“That’s exactly why we feel ripped off, robbed,” said West.
“Cheated,” said Atkins.
“Cheated. Taken advantage of,” said West.
Atkins says Shakir led her to this secretive back room to seal the deal. Tabatha wanted to go with her daughter.
“Why can’t I come with her to help her?” she asked that night.
She was told the person bidding on a car must go alone. We got the same response when we asked whether two people could go into the room. The answer was only one person is allowed back there.
So, what happens in that back room? A young looking CBS 2 colleague bid on a car and got to go inside with Shakir.
Nadia Adams described what it was like. “It was very intimidating. I mean, he’s a big guy. He was kind of standing over me a little bit. And, he was very pushy. $700 you don’t have that, OK, $200 do you have that? $50, do you have that?”
People come to auctions like this one to get a good deal on a used car.
But, an insider, too afraid to be seen on camera confessed: “Their main purpose is to get your money By the time you put your money down … it’s too late.”
And, the insider whispered this warning: “Keep your money. Go somewhere else.”
A total of 68 customers who wished they had gone somewhere else have complained to the Better Business Bureau in the last three years.
Customers like the one we ran into outside: “All this is bulls—. They should put this s— on the Internet. ”
A total of 187 dissatisfied customers have filed complaints with the Attorney General since 2014 because the cars they bid on were:
- Sold to someone else after they handed over the down payment
- Switched after they paid in full; and
- Broke down as soon as they drove off the lot.
And you won’t believe this one. Shakir is still running the operation. Our undercover cameras caught him setting sales prices.
And, taking buyer after buyer into the back room to collect their cash.
He even tried to get money from CBS 2’s Adams, saying “You have to go get $600.” Ultimately, Adams said she didn’t have any money for a downpayment and Shakir gave up and asked her to leave.
Back in 2009 Shakir was banned from owning or managing an auto sales business, so why is he still here?
In addition to working at First Marshall, according to state records, he’s listed as manager of South Chicago Auto Auction. It’s in that building where the auction is held.
CBS 2 Investigator Tucker found Shakir leaving the auction in his car and tried to ask a few questions.
But he didn’t stop and couldn’t drive off fast enough.
Since Shakir is the owner of South Chicago and that building and First Marshall are on the same lot, based on what we found the Attorney General is now looking into Shakir’s relationship with First Marshall.
The place where buyers say they got ripped off.
“I would like to see them shut down and I would like to see my daughter get her money back,” said West.
We tried reaching out to Khaldoon Shakir through phone calls and email for an on camera interview and his attorney refused.