Illinois’ largely unregulated towing industry is leaving some customers angry and upset after they were left on the hook for unexpected bills.

Twenty-year-old college student Ellie Frobish was charged nearly $4,000 for her car to be towed out of a ditch that she landed in during a snowstorm. 

“My friends are like: ‘You got pretty girl scammed,’” she said.

The bill included an $1,800 “surcharge based on recovery elements” and a $724 fuel surcharge.

Ellie’s father Eric Frobish, an attorney, attempted to intervene by calling the tow company.

“He told me basically in no uncertain terms: ‘This is going to go in one of a few ways: Either you pay for this tow or we’re going to keep your car in storage and rack-up more fees until we own your car,’” he said. 

The total cost of the tow came close to the value of Ellie Frobish’s 11-year-old Ford Taurus.

But Ellie Frobish’s experience wasn’t nearly as costly as Kamayi Denis’ encounter with the same suburban towing company. He was charged $23,188 to remove his jack-knifed pick-up truck and cargo carrier from a ditch along I-55. By the time he was finished arguing with the tow firm and insurance company, storage fees were tacked-on that sent the bill soaring past $39,000.   

“I want them to be accountable for the wrong they’re doing to people,” Denis said.

WGN Investigates found despite more than 100 reports to police and dozens of complaints filed against the company with the Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Attorney General and Better Business Bureau since January 2021, there is little regulators can do.