SAN DIEGO - Two people who said they were fooled by used car ads posted in local newspapers contacted Team 10 to notify the public about the ads and the woman behind them, both people said.
Escondido resident Wendy Carr saw an ad in her local newspaper for a 2004 PT Cruiser. She called the phone number in the ad and spoke with Kate Shafie.
Carr thought the ad was from a private seller, but Shafie was actually registered with the state as an auto dealer. She said Shafie told her that she bought the used PT Cruiser for her daughter, but now her daughter didn't need it.
"She said she had it checked bumper to bumper, inside out," said Carr.
Shafie is the same woman who state investigators said broke laws while selling cars in 2009 and 2010. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Shafie violated the Vehicle Code when she did business at unlicensed locations, made a false or misleading statement, and "failed to identify dealership."
Click here to read Team 10's previous investigation involving Shafie
Carr didn't know about Shafie's history when she called her this summer. She just needed a car for her son Jacob.
"I was very excited to get a car for him. And you know he's just starting a new job -- he got an apprenticeship," said Carr.
She bought the car, but a few weeks later, there were big problems.
"Third time that I drove it down to work in Miramar, it broke down on me," said Jacob Carr. "I took it down directly to our mechanic."
He said they inspected the car and found a variety of problems. "The most surprising thing that I have to say was that they said there was a crack in the engine block."
When Carr learned that Shafie was actually a licensed dealer, she complained to the Department of Motor Vehicles. DMV supervising investigator Paul Smith couldn't discuss any specific cases, but explained to Team 10 why dealers can't hide the fact that they are licensed.
"For a licensee to sell it other than their place of business is against the law. And also, to not disclose that they're a dealership when selling it on the internet or any publication is illegal," said Smith.
He said one reason a dealer might hide his/her license status is because selling cars offsite, instead of maintaining a car lot, makes overhead costs much lower.
Shafie's estranged husband offered another reason.
Team 10 found it in court documents about Shafie. In them, Frank Shafie claims, "She is illegally posting the vehicles for sale in the newspaper, Craisglist, etc. by not stating that these are 'dealer' vehicles. This is a direct violation of the law as not listing them as dealer owned vehicles allows her to avoid paying sales tax on the vehicles she is selling."
Another victim contacted Team 10 after a different problem with Shafie.
Ed Rosa met her after he saw a newspaper ad for a 2006 Ford Taurus.
"She said that she bought the car from a next-door neighbor, an elderly lady," said Rosa.
After Rosa saw the car, he gave her a check for $400 to hold it. Rosa said that Shafie told him if he didn't buy the car, she would give him his money back.
"She seemed honest enough," said Rosa.
He made an offer to Shafie two days later. However, according to Rosa, Shafie ignored his offer and kept the money from his cashed check.
Team 10 tracked down an address for Shafie's business, Quality Plus Motors. Instead of a car lot, it was a building in Oceanside, housing other companies. Shafie's business ran from a desk that she rented from Michael Lewis. He said she hadn't been there in several weeks.
Team 10 also attempted to contact Shafie by phone and at her San Marcos home, but did not hear back from her.
The DMV recently canceled Shafie's auto dealer license as "Quality Plus" in Oceanside for not having an established place of business.
When the DMV investigates any case, the agency may choose to file the case criminally through the local prosecutor, administratively by revoking or suspending a license, or both depending on the investigation and alleged violations.
According to documents Team 10 found filed with the County of San Diego, Shafie has a new business called "Perfection Motors." The DMV told Team 10 that Perfection Motors in Oceanside does not have a dealer license, nor is there a pending application from the business.
Shafie is also still posting classified car ads. Team 10 found recent ads listing the same phone numbers Ed Rosa and Wendy Carr responded to: (760) 270-4428 and (619) 206-2555.
Click here for the California Department of Consumer Affairs' guide for consumers buying a used vehicle.