Normally a mechanic can put a lien on a car for failure to pay for a repair and then sell that car if the cost isn't paid off within a certain amount of time. Some shady mechanics are using liens to make extra cash by selling cars out from under their customers.

Daniel James learned this the hard way when the shop that was supposed to be replacing an engine sold his 1986 Ford Mustang.

"I almost lost my car," James told CBS13.

His Mustang had been at MK Auto for three years. He was told every few months that the shop was struggling to find a new engine for the classic car. Until one day when he called and they told him they had put a lien on the car in March and that it had been sold, and they couldn't tell him why.

"He told me, 'Hey, the car's gone, you're not gonna get it back. It's gone,'" James told CBS13.

James was never alerted that a lien was on his car, and when he checked with the Department of Motor Vehicles he found out why. The lien had never existed. Despite the California DMV calling this scam a 'huge trend' they won't warn consumers about the scam.

Why?

Because that may give more shops the idea to sell cars in their care illegally. Consumer advocates point out that the DMV is protecting the criminals rather than the drivers.

MK Autos bought back James' Mustang when he complain to the press and returned it to him, with the old engine still inside. The DMV said if you've been a victim of this scam to contact them.

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