After yesterday’s post on rip-offs on autotrader.ca, I looked into the Internet used car sales fraud deal. It’s a BIG deal. The industry estimates that some twenty-two million used cars were sold online last year. According to a recent FBI report, the number of complaints the agency received re: Internet fraud rose 33.1 percent during the same period, representing a $265 million loss. Yes, well, that’s the reported figure. No one knows the actual size of the car classified rip-off problem and which way it’s trending (to use the proper verbization). The companies who provide the websites where these shady deals go down ain’t gonna to fill in that blank, now are they? Autotrader.com spokesman Mark Scott wouldn’t disclose the number of fraud tips sent to them by aggrieved/suspicious users. But he claims his employer investigates all leads within an hour of receipt.
Scott said Autotrader regularly shares fraud info with rival listing orgs, including discussions about the efficacy of their filtering and fraud detection software (whose parameters remain a closely guarded secret). Scott and his colleagues from eBay, cars.com, edmunds, mota.com, Pep Boys and Craigslist are heading off for the Petersen Museum for tomorrow’s “Fraud Abatement through Industry Response” (FAIR) summit. There will be a public panel discussion, followed by a closed door pow-wow. (If any members of our Best and Brightest can cover this event for us, please contact me at [email protected]).
As for the caveat emptor side of the equation, Scott is down with our previous poster’s guidelines. “Do your research. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. If you can’t talk to the seller by telephone before purchase, don’t do it. And never click on a link within an email; it can take you to a fake version of a real site.” Clever bastards.