DENVER -- What happened to the money? That's what customers who were left high and dry by the sudden closure of Elevation Performance LLC would like to know.
The auto repair shop was deluged with customers soon after the May 8 hail storm.
Insurance companies reportedly paid the shop hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair hail damaged vehicles, which in many cases wasn't done.
"It's disgusting," said Shanna Salazar. "(My SUV) has been here three months.... now everything is missing."
There is no hood, windshield or tailgate on the Salazar's Toyota 4-Runner.
"There's a big scratch here," she said, pointing to the back bumper, "and these here," along the running board.
Salazar said her 4-Runner, which she named Thunder, was in pristine condition until it was pounded by hail.
She says it sustained even more damage while sitting at the repair shop.
When asked why she picked Elevation, Salazar said that after the storm, a fellow employee sent out a mass e-mail telling co-workers, "I know this great place. These guys worked on my vehicles. They did excellent work. I highly recommend them."
Now, she wishes she had never paid attention to it.
The shop owner, Alisha Smith, made a big push to increase her hail repair business earlier this summer. On July 11, she posted an advertisement on her Facebook page touting a referral program.
"If you send a friend or family member our way and they use us for a complete hair (sp) repair, we will give you $200," the ad said.
On Wednesday, Smith told Denver7 by phone that her ex-boyfriend, Anthony Lopez, a.k.a. Giovanni Savvoy, mismanaged he company.
When asked what happened to the money paid by insurance companies, Smith said she didn't know.
She said the company is in her name because she is the one who had good credit, but she said she wasn't running the company.
Bankruptcy expert says call DA
Bankruptcy attorney Rob Cohen told Denver7 that customers may have recourse, but he cautioned that it may be difficult to get money back.
"If you hire a civil attorney," he said, "you really need to have several thousands of dollars in damage to make it worth hiring an attorney. Why hire an attorney for $5,000 if you're only going to get $5,000 in damages."
Cohen said he recommends that Elevations customers call the district attorney's office and get police involved.
The Denver DA's Fraud Hotline is 720-913-9179.
If it is determined that fraud was involved, criminal charges could be filed.
District Attorney spokesman Ken Lane said prosecutors would only step in if there is a crime that can be proven.
Cohen said if there was a crime and a conviction, a judge might order restitution.
When asked about bankruptcy, Cohen said, "Most bankruptcy cases in Colorado are no asset cases. What that means is there are no assets to distribute to creditors."
On his company's website, Cohen outlines the nine different types of bankruptcy.
The attorney said there is always the option of small claims court, but said the shop customers shouldn't rush into that decision.
"Like I always tell my clients," he said, "There's always two questions you ask before you sue somebody, 1) Can you win, and 2) Can you collect?"
Cohen also said the owner of the shop may have claims against the guy who she says created this mess.
"But if it turns into a big complicated mess, then it's going to take years for this to all work out," he said. "It's really too bad."