Online vehicle shoppers are being victimized by fraudulent vehicle sales and false claims of vehicle protection (VPP) programs… Criminals also attempt to make their scams appear valid by misusing the names of reputable companies and programs. These criminals have no association with these companies and their schemes give buyers instructions which fail to adhere to the rules and restrictions of any legitimate program. For example, the eBay Motors Vehicle Protection Plan (VPP) is a reputable protection program whose name is commonly misused by these criminals. However, the VPP is not applicable to transactions that originate outside of eBay Motors, and it prohibits wire transfer payments. Nevertheless, criminals often promise eBay Motors VPP protections for non-eBay Motors purchases, and instruct victims to pay via Western Union or MoneyGram.
No wonder online new car sales have been struggling. Hit the jump for IC3′s list of warning signs.
According to the center’s release, buyers should beware
- Sellers who want to move the transaction from one platform to another (for example, Craigslist to eBay Motors).
- Sellers who claim that a buyer protection program offered by a major Internet company covers an auto transaction conducted outside that company’s site.
- Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and request payments via quick wire transfer payment systems.
- Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
- Transactions where the seller and vehicle are in different locations. Criminals often claim to have been transferred for work reasons, deployed by the military, or moved because of a family circumstance, and could not take the vehicle with them.
- Vehicles advertised at well below their market value. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
The LA Times reports that scammers recently used and Edmunds.com lookalike page to defraud online car buyers. Keep a watchful eye on all online auto sellers, and be sure to report any attempts of fraud to local law enforcement, the IC3 and, if you want to take justice into your own hands, write up your experience for TTAC. To defeat scammers, we all need to pull together.