I-Team Exclusive: 11 Purrfect Auto Shops Under Investigation - 8 News NOW

Colleen McCarty, Investigative Reporter

I-Team Exclusive: 11 Purrfect Auto Shops Under Investigation

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The government's case against Purrfect Auto has expanded. The Channel 8 I-Team was the first to tell you about accusations of consumer fraud against the local auto repair franchise. 

The Nevada attorney general's Bureau of Consumer Protection has broadened its case to include a total of 11 Purrfect Auto locations. That's up by four from last November. 

See all 11 locations that under investigation.

The common link, according to court documents, is the relationships between the individual franchise owners and one man.

You can read the statement in its entirety by clicking here.

Four Purrfect Auto franchises are: Rancho and Cheyenne, Eastern and St. Rose Parkway, Sunset and Eastern, and Decatur and Tropicana.

In November, the A.G.'s Bureau of Consumer Protection ran an undercover sting and found mechanics at each location charging for services that weren't performed.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Delaney said, "The evidence is clear to us from the sheer volume of complaints and from the evidence collected so far that this is anything but an anomaly. That these actions by these locations is a concerted effort to defraud the public and maximize profitability."

Over the last nine months, the A.G.'s office says it's collected more 100 consumer complaints related to Purrfect Auto locations. Those, coupled with insider information and witness depositions, have prompted the state to expand its case.

A total of 11 Purrfect Auto shops are now accused of ripping off consumers.

Has an auto repair shop ever ripped you off? The I-Team wants to know.

"We were bombarded with a wealth of information indicating that the ownership was much broader than just the four locations. That there was in fact one individual that was believed to be directly or indirectly operating at least 11 locations if not more," Delaney continued. 

Though you won't find his name on any of the franchise agreements, according to the complaint, a man named Shafik Hirji controls all Purrfect Auto Service locations in Nevada.

Court records in the mid-90s show Hirji was listed as the sole corporate officer of Paisa, the original franchisor of Purrfect Auto in Nevada and in California.

In 1999, Paisa filed for bankruptcy in California and Francare, the current Nevada franchisor was born. A year later Hirji pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud and was sentenced to three years probation.

Hirji is now, according to the complaint, a consultant for Francare.

"He is in fact the individual who's giving direction and telling these businesses and these businesses are willing to follow the model we described," Senior Deputy Attorney General Delaney explained.

It's a business model that, according to court records, requires the franchise to "up-sell." The shops lure customers with coupons offering a 30,000-mile service for $149.95. The low-cost repairs aren't profitable, according to a government witness, so the locations must sell additional services to a minimum of six out of every ten customers.

According to the complaint, in most, if not all cases, customers pay for so-called phantom services, services that simply aren't performed.

Delaney continued, "The evidence will show that this is an intentional defrauding of the public on an ongoing basis and there's no room in Nevada for these types of operations."

The Nevada A.G.'s office has asked the court to shut down the 11 Purrfect Auto locations.

A trial is set for February.

The I-Team contacted Hirji's attorney seeking comment and the calls have not been returned. Though late Monday, the I-Team did receive a statement from Francare.

It reads in part: "The franchises named in the complaint have assured us the allegations against them are false and they will be vigorously defended. Nonetheless, Francare takes any allegations of this nature seriously and if they are proven to be true, those responsible will have their franchises terminated."

You can read the statement in its entirety by clicking here.

Consumers can file a complaint against Purrfect Auto with the A.G.'s office.

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