OLATHE, Kan. -- Shelby Nielsen has been forced to catch rides to work since January. That's when she discovered the car she bought from a Johnson County used car lot -- Kidd's Automotive -- doesn't belong to her.
"He took my ID. Everything you would do to buy a car," said Nielsen, who took out a $4,000 bank loan to buy the car, that was sold to her by Kidd's general manager.
In fact, everything seemed okay, she said, until a week later when the car suddenly died on the highway and that same general manager towed it back to Kidd's for repairs.
After a month passed and she still didn't have her car back, Nielsen's father Jeff called Kidd's and learned some disturbing news. His daughter's car sale was illegal because Kidd's owners said they never got the money.
Jeff Nielsen was told the general manager no longer worked for Kidd's, but when he asked for his daughter's money or car back, he was refused and told he should have known the deal was crooked.
"We had no reason to believe that... he did not have the authority to sell the car and no reason to think he was doing anything he should not have been doing," said Mr. Nielsen, pointing out that there was a bill of sale, an odometer disclosure and they were given a copy of the title.
What Mr. Nielsen said he didn't know was that the now former general manager James D. Ray, 42, is a convicted with a rap sheet that stretches over years and includes everything from theft and forgery to burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle. Ray has spent time in both Kansas and Missouri prisons.
"They allowed this guy to work for them and to have access to their company for well over a year," said Nielsen in disbelief that Kidd's is now trying to blame him for not realizing the general manager was a crook.
An employee of Kidd's Automotive told FOX 4 Problem Solvers that the Nielsens should have realized that James Ray was the general manager of Kidd's tow lot, not the car lot. But we questioned how any customer would possibly know that, pointing out that even the employee talking to us at the car lot was wearing a shirt that said "Kidd's Towing," not "Kidd's Automotive."
But the folks at Kidd's continue to insist they -- not the Nielsens -- are the real victims. That's something that consumer attorney Bernard Brown disputes, saying Kidd's should refund the money.
"I'm sorry but it took place on your premises," Brown said. "You hired a convicted felon. He had the keys. He wore the shirt. What more do you want? That's pretty extreme stuff. It's obnoxious that they would disclaim responsibility there."
The Nielsens have hired an attorney are now planning to sue Kidd's for the money they lost. In the meantime, police in Olathe and Overland Park are investigating accusations of theft and fraud against James Ray. FOX 4 Problem Solvers tired repeatedly to reach Ray, but we could not find him.