KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yvette Vallier hasn't had an easy life. She's on disability and in constant pain from a severe back injury. Plus she's still coping with the loss of her husband who died a few years ago.
She lives on a tight budget and is constantly looking for deals to make her limited finances stretch. That's search for a deal that placed her in her latest predicament. She was looking for a used car when a woman she volunteers with referred her to a man she knew who was supposedly a sales manager at a car lot.
The man was Shayne Dehm. Vallier said she liked him the first time she met him because he seemed to take a personal interest in struggles and wanted to help. He said he and the owner of the car lot where he worked would be happy to help her get a reliable vehicle for the $10,000 she had to spend.
Dehm, she said, told her he was going to an out-of-state auction with the owner and would pick up the car. He asked Vallier for a $2,000 deposit. She tried to drop the money off at the car lot, but she said Dehm told her he would stop by and pick it up.
Later that month, Dehm said her car was now in Missouri and she would need to give him a second payment of $2,800. She said Dehm asked that the cashier's check be made out to him because he had already covered the payment from his own pocket.
Feeling that Dehm was doing her a huge favor, Vallier agreed and handed over a second payment. Dehm gave her two receipts. One of the receipts was signed by Dehm and the other had the signature of the car lot's owner.
Vallier thought all was well until she went to the car lot to make her final payment and pick up her car. That's when she discovered she'd been scammed.
A car lot employee told her the car had never been there. Plus, Dehm was not the sales manager, as he claimed, but a regular salesman. And that receipt with the signature of the car lot's owner was forged. In fact, the car lot fired Dehm that very day.
According to Kansas court records, Dehm has been convicted of multiple felonies, from fraud to forgery to theft. He's currently on probation.
"It just devastated me in every way," Vallier said.
Unable to even find Dehm, Vallier asked the car lot Auto Bank for her money back. Auto Bank owner Mike Fielder refused to give her a refund, pointing out that it was Dehm, not Auto Bank that defrauded her. Fielder said the whole scam took place off the car lot and no one at Auto Bank knew anything about it.
But consumer attorney Bernard Brown said a judge might not agree.
"It's a pretty well established law in Missouri that employers have a responsibility to supervise and to hire with care," said Brown, adding that Auto Bank provided Dehm with the credentials he needed (a job) to take Yvette's money.
Although Auo Bank doesn't believe it is responsible for Vallier's loss, it did offer her another car at a reduced price. But Vallier turned down the offer, saying she didn't believe it was a good deal.
FOX 4 Problem Solvers has repeatedly tried to reach Dehm, but we couldn't find him even though he's on supervised probation in Kansas. Meanwhile, Vallier has hired an attorney and plans to sue Auto Bank to get her money back.