Posted 11:32 PM 9/5/2012 : Alleged fraud victims speak out in auto body investigation
Colorado Springs Police spent Wednesday in and out of two auto repair shops east of downtown investigating possible fraud.
CSPD's Financial Crimes Unit sent a tactical enforcement team and a crime lab truck to Springs Transmission & Automotive and Springs Converter, located at 3310 Chelton Loop. They issued three search warrants to investigate reports of money paid for work not done, vandalism and theft to vehicles left at the shop, and vehicles not returned to customers.
Police suspect more than fifty people may have been ripped off by the owner of the businesses, Gregory Ehnes. Former employee Eugene Sintas isn't surprised. Sintas told News 5, "He's doing transmissions and supposedly putting new converters in there which I know he didn't, he put the old one back in there."
Another former employee, Robert Hampton, concurrs. He said, "He [Ehnes] would take money from people and not fix the cars or give the cars back, or he'd keep them for a very, very long time."
Twenty-two people filed police reports saying they paid for work that was never done, were charged for unnecessary repairs, and had their cars vandalized while being worked on.
Joe Childers says he's one of the company's fraud victims. He dropped off his truck in April and paid almost $2,000 for repairs, and it's still not done. Childers says his car was vandalized while in Ehnes' posession, and also says that Ehnes lost his keys and may have to pay for a new set to be made. Childers told News 5, "The vehicles not driveable, I have no keys, I can't even check if the transmission was replaced and I'm out $1,750."
News 5 investigated the business; Springs Transmission & Automotive has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau for a huge number of complaints from customers in just three years. Blair Reeves, Chief Operations Officer of the BBB says, "That's mainly because they have thirty-seven unanswered complaints which means we sent them a complaint and they pretty much ignored us."
Reeves says thirty-seven complaints is huge for a business that small; normally those numbers are seen with companies that have many locations across the nation. Reeves says of the score, "There were repair and service issues, warranty issues, pretty much across the board anything that had to do with auto repair."
It seems the government isn't happy with the company either; OSHA issued Springs Transmission & Automotive a $76,000 fine last July for eighteen health and safety violations.
News 5 also looked into the Colorado Court Database and found forty-one cases against Gregory Ehnes, mostly involving money.
News 5 spoke to Ehnes Wednesday; though he didn't want to go on camera, he said he didn't know why he was being investigated.
CSPD is still investigating the case; they say if you think you're a victim of fraud in this case, call 444-7000.