The Better Busines Bureau warns against flim-flam folks who pretend to sell cars, posing with websites with syntax close to the names of reputable dealers. These guys aim to take you for a ride all right.
From a BBB press release:
Better Business Bureau is warning car shoppers to beware of websites offering too-good-to-be-true deals on repossessed cars. BBB has heard from people across the country who thought they were buying from a reputable dealer online but were actually sending money to scammers posing as legitimate, already-established community dealerships.
“Because scammers essentially steal the identity and good name of real auto dealers, car shoppers will think that they’re buying a car from a reputable business,” said Kim States, BBB President. “The truth is, they’re being sold a bill of goods by a coordinated, agile and in all likelihood overseas outfit of scammers.”
Most recently, one Memphis auto dealer, America Auto Sales (www.memphisautoworld.com), received more than 1,000 calls from consumers across the country who had shopped for a new car on http://www.americautosales.com thinking that it was the website of the Memphis dealership. The phony website used the name, address and contact information of the real dealer.
The fraudulent website claimed to sell repossessed cars at prices well below market. Buyers were instructed to wire a deposit—as much as $5,000—to an individual rather than the company, which, according to the phony website, “helps us avoid taxes legally.” The balance was to be paid upon delivery at the consumer’s address within five days.
After paying the deposit, victims called the real dealership to arrange delivery of their car. Some customers even showed up at the lot to pick up the cars they had “bought” on the bogus site.
The BBB says similar sites have been spotted aping dealers in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas. It warns you should watch out for dealers who only communicate electronically and only accept payment via wire transfer.
If you’ve bought a car online, how have you protected yourself?