Couple out $500; warns others of self-described ‘mobile mechanic’

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- You don't have to be a mechanic to tell Walter Whitlock's truck has a squeaky suspension.

"It's very, very noticeable," Whitlock said.

The 71-year-old said Frank Dizonno Jr. offered to fix it. In late August, Whitlock and his wife said they pulled into a restaurant parking lot in Kalamazoo, and Dizonno followed them inside.

"He come up to us and convinced us that he was a mechanic and that he has a mobile repair service, where they come out to your home with all the equipment," Whitlock recalled.

He said Dizonno, who was a stranger, convinced them that he's cheaper than an auto repair shop.

"So we wrote him off a check for $500... on the spot. So he could get the parts," Whitlock said.

But Whitlock said that was the first and last time he heard from Dizonno, and when he tried to get in touch with him, Dizonno's cell phone number no longer worked.

"Maybe somebody hit him on the head and maybe he's got amnesia," Whitlock said.

So to refresh Dizonno's memory, Whitlock reached out to the FOX 17 17 Problem Solvers. He hoped to get his money back, but he also wants to warn others.

The Problem Solvers did some digging and found Dizonno has a lengthy criminal record in Michigan and Florida. Charges range from theft to weapons violations.

Most recently, in August , the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office arrested him for shoplifting. A surveillance photo provided by the sheriff's office allegedly shows Dizonno stealing supplies from a hardware shop.

Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau of West Michigan, said this is the perfect example of why you need to do a background check on a business.

"To me, it's a lot like somebody knocking on your door asking to come in and work on something on your house. They put you in physical, potential risk, and you have no idea the credibility of their background in terms of whether you should trust them or not," Catlett said

The Problem Solvers left a message on another number recovered for Dizonno and visited a couple of last known addresses. A former neighbor said Dizonno had been looking for a place to stay after getting kicked out of a trailer this summer. But Whitlock isn’t giving up.

"So, we're out $500 and some egg on our face, and we'd like some restitution," Whitlock said.

Whitlock filed a police report and said he plans to press charges.

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  • Mac Woods

    So you wrote a check to a perfect stinking stranger “On the spot”? For Five Hundred (!) dollars? Hey Mr. Whitlock, I see the landscaping on your property needs some attention. Let me call my boys, we’ll have this place whipped into shape in eight hours. We won’t even charge you for the job, but we’ll need five hundred dollars for some weed whackers, rakes, and leaf bags………….

  • Anonymous

    He is homeless living in any wooded area he can find. You can usually find him around midnight somewhere in the area around Big Lots in Kalamazoo Michigan digging through dumpsters for food or items he can sell. He rides a bike with some kind of cart or carry along thing on the back with all his belongings on it. If you want justice against this man as badly as many of us do you’re going to have to search the streets around that area either Westnedge or wherever Big Lots is in the area of Western Michigan University. The only number We had for him before a falling out is 269-348-6386. He does not answer that line anymore. But you can give it a try! Good luck! We all wish you the best