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LAS VEGAS -- A victory for consumers as the man at the center of the Purrfect Auto case is being held accountable for intentionally ripping-off his customers. A judge made the decision Thursday.
When the I-Team rode undercover with state investigators back in 2006, Purrfect Auto employees, time and time again, charged for parts and services that weren't provided.
Though common sense suggests the rip-offs were more than a coincidence, the Nevada Attorney General's Office gathered evidence of a common scheme among 11 Purrfect Auto locations and dubbed one man, Shafik Hirji, the mastermind behind an effort to scam his customers, even though Hirji insisted during recent court hearings that he was only a consultant with the company.
Judge Mark Denton disagreed. In a 10 page ruling, the judge found the state provided substantial evidence that Hirji controls all Nevada Purrfect Auto locations, even though his name doesn't appear on any corporate paperwork.
As such, Hirji is liable for nearly $120,000 in restitution to consumers and another $100,000 in fines. But perhaps the harshest penalty is a permanent ban against Hirji's participation in the auto repair industry unless he does so above board.
"It is important because it sets the standard of properly conducting business in our state and we have to continue to protect our consumers and by this decision, I think that's a big step in that direction," said Deputy Attorney General Adriana Escobar.
Hirji must also pay $75,000 in attorney's fees to the state.
So what does this mean for consumers who think they got a raw deal at Purrfect Auto? The ruling only provides restitution for those consumers already named in the state's case. So if you haven't been in contact with the AG during the last few years, you will not receive any money.
Shafik Hirji's attorney, Malcolm Lavergne, says he is disappointed by the judge's ruling and that the state failed to show that anyone accused Mr. Hirji of directing them to defraud consumers. He says they plan to appeal the ruling.