Costly rides: Customers say towing company collected insurance money, didn't fix their cars

Action 9 exposed a local tow truck company that customers claim took them for costly rides.

Action 9 exposed a local tow truck company that customers claim took them for costly rides.

They said it towed their vehicles from accident scenes and collected insurance money, but never repaired their cars.

Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich uncovered a dozen victims who lost their vehicles for months, then he confronted company managers and asked why regulators ignored customers' pleas for help.

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"I don't even know what to do," said Kiara LaBoy, a single mom with a 4-year-old child.

"They did take advantage of the fact that I was panicking and I was scared," said Dale Ingram, a restaurant waiter going to college.

"Do you feel violated?" Ulrich asked.

"Yes, I do -- very violated," replied Carlton Fisher, a single dad with two kids.

All three consumers claim they were badly burned by County Towing and Recovery. Their stories are painfully similar.

They were involved in a car accident, then someone from County Towing approached them and offered to tow their vehicles, make repairs and handle everything.

"All I had to do was sign some papers so they could work it out with the insurance," LaBoy said.

But for LaBoy that happened six months ago. She said County Towing never fixed the car, but kept her vehicle and $6,000 in insurance money.

Fisher paid County Towing for repairs that were never completed.

"For some reason, they won't fix it or return any of my phone calls," Fisher said.

It's been five months since County Towing collected Ingram's insurance settlement, but didn't fix his wrecked Honda.

"I saved up all my life to get that car. That's all I have," Ingram said.

Action 9 identified at least a dozen consumers who claim County Towing did the same thing to them.

Ulrich found its shop doors locked but there were 10 damaged cars out back, including LaBoy's Honda.

"I'm still making payments for this car," LaBoy said.

County Towing is owned by Steven Perez, who has avoided Ulrich's questions.

However, Action 9 was there when someone from County Towing offered to return consumers' vehicles if they signed documents, agreeing not to sue.

"How can you keep their cash?" Ulrich asked.

"I'm sorry. I'm not the owner," replied the manager.

"You're the one asking them to sign the paperwork," Ulrich said.

The manager slammed the car door shut as Ulrich asked, "How can you keep their cash?"

In Florida regulations ban tow trucks from trolling accident scenes.

But customers said the Orange County Sheriff's Office told them this was not a criminal issue.

"Is this just a civil matter?" Ulrich asked.

"I don't believe so," replied attorney Jared Lee.

Lee is preparing a lawsuit for Fisher.

"Unfortunately, everyone points consumers at other organizations to take responsibility," Lee said.

"I felt like I was scammed," Fisher said.

Action 9 started investigating County Towing five months ago. Just this week, the Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed it's investigating fraud allegations against the company.

In the past month, many victims did get their cars back, but the vehicles were not repaired and the company has not returned their money.