Charlotte repair shop being investigated by feds for fraudulent emissions inspections
Friendly Auto Repair on North Tryon Street is at the center of the investigation.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte car shop is under investigation by the feds, after being accused of falsifying vehicle-emission inspections.
Details of the investigation were revealed in a newly-unsealed search warrant.
Friendly Auto Repair on North Tryon Street is at the center of this investigation, which began after state DMV officials suspected a large number of inspections done at the shop last year were falsified.
“It’s not fair, that is not fair at all,” Anthony Haskins, who manages Auto Inspector on Central Avenue in Charlotte, said.
Haskins said emissions inspections are serious business.
“It makes us look bad, it makes us look bad in the eyes of the customer,” he said. “Guys are making money, extra money and charging people for something that’s fraud.”
Police investigators picked random days and found that between Feb. 23-28, 2021 – nearly 1,100 inspections at the Friendly Auto Repair were performed and 113 were falsified.
The warrant reveals investigators found over half were falsified on May 17 and May 29 of 2021.
On June 26, 2021, 26 inspections were performed, and all but two were falsified.
During an undercover operation in September 2021, the warrant says a vehicle with a check-engine light was brought in for an inspection. It was never pulled into the inspection bay or plugged into the emissions analyzer, and the shop charged the undercover officer $80.
Inspections cost $13 and inspections with emissions test cost $30 in North Carolina.
“Do your inspections, do it legally, do it correctly, don’t beat people out of money,” Haskins said.
Investigators also allege the shop was changing vehicle registrations from counties that required emissions tests to those without one so vehicles could evade the testing requirement.
“It makes the good shops that are doing their job, that are responsible, it makes those guys look bad,” Haskins said.
He added that before you get an inspection, check your fluids and make sure you don’t have any bulbs out to help prevent shops from taking advantage of you, or get your car checked out my a trusted mechanic first.
“If a mechanic sees something on the car that looks like it’s going to be needed, he should give it up front and tell you what you’re going to need,” Haskins said.
A representative from North Carolina’s DMV said the case is still under investigation.
WBTV reached out to the owner of Friendly Auto Repair to get his side of the story on this investigation, but nobody got back to us. There is a sign on the door of Friendly Auto Repair saying they’re not doing inspections.
The search warrant affidavit can be viewed here.
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