LAS VEGAS -- For more than four years, Nevada consumers who say they were scammed by a local car repair franchise have waited for their day in court. Now they may finally get it.
The I-Team first exposed claims that Purrfect Auto Service was ripping off customers back in November of 2006, the same month the Attorney General filed a lawsuit to shut down the franchise. But years of delays by both sides threatened to stall the case permanently until a renewed effort by the state's attorney put the case back in the courtroom.
Monday morning, Judge Mark Denton cleared the way for a trial against the two remaining defendants, Shafik Hirji and his wife Judy Pham. Prosecutors allege the two are the masterminds of an on-going conspiracy to defraud Purrfect Auto customers and franchisees.
According to the complaint, Purrfect Auto uses low cost oil changes to attract consumers with the intent of selling them unnecessary parts and services. An undercover sting by state investigators in 2006 found four out of four franchises charged for repairs that were never performed.
"What's happening here is Mr. Hirji is still involved in this case. This isn't something that's happening in the past, this scam continues and is affecting the Nevada consumers on a daily basis," said Deputy Attorney General Adriana Escobar.
Escobar told the judge she planned to call former Purrfect Auto franchisees as witnesses against Hirji, many who were once accused by the state right along with him.
No word yet on a trial date, but the AG's office said more than once it was ready to proceed.
The AG alleged back in 2006 that it had more than 200 complaints against the franchise. Certainly part of the AG's effort is to get restitution for those folks and ultimately to prevent any further alleged victims by kicking the company out of Nevada.