July 24, 2024

# Warning to Classic Car Buyers on Online Scams – Courtesy of Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) from Central and South Alabama is cautioning consumers against a recent rise in fake classic car and heavy equipment websites scams. These deceptive sites are swindling buyers out of large sums of money. Some of these scams involve Alabamians being targeted by car dealer scams from other states. A brief overview of three recent incidents demonstrate the intensity of these scams:

* Miami’s Crystal Dealership scammed a customer out of $25,000. The consumer was convinced to wire the money after signing a vehicle contract, which was never delivered. After the money transfer, all communication ended, and the vehicle remained listed online for sale.

* Salt Lake City’s JJ Auto Sales defrauded a buyer out of $36,000. The consumer was promised a vehicle, but after the agreed delivery date, the consumer was blocked from the dealer’s phone number.

* Lebanon’s Faith Auto Brokers con artist swindled $27,000 from a buyer. The consumer wired money after signing various documents, such as a bill of sale and dealer license. However, after the money was transferred, all communication terminated.

These scams are carried out through the creation of fake websites mimicking actual classic car dealerships. Scammers often lift pictures, contact details, and even vehicle identification numbers (VIN) from legitimate sellers to dupe potential buyers.

### Insightful Discoveries for consumers:

* Reports to BBB Scam Tracker about online vehicle dealer scams saw a sharp increase in 2023.
* Scammers are now relying more on fake websites and stealing details from authentic sellers.
* Classic car buyers are primarily targeted with offers of unique cars at lower-than-believable prices.
* Over the past three years, counterfeit vehicle history reports have increased.
* Nearly 700 BBB Scam Tracker reports are citing fraudulent vehicle sales, escrow scams, and phony vehicle reports.
* The average loss in fraudulent vehicle sale and escrow scams is a substantial $12,600.
* Almost $45 million has been lost to fake vehicle report scams, including an estimated $6 million from Alabama consumers seeking to buy classic cars.

### BBB’s Suggestions for Online Vehicle Purchases:

* Inspect the vehicle personally or have a trusted friend or family member do so.
* If the deal seems too good, it most likely is.
* Refrain from transferring money electronically; instead pay with a Cashier’s Check in person, if feasible.
* It’s best to pick up the vehicle in person and pay with a Cashier’s Check upon delivery.
* Don’t succumb to high-pressure sales tactics.
* Always use authorized VIN Lookup websites to confirm the vehicle’s history.

For more on this and other scams, visit BBB’s official [website](https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/27312-scammers-impersonate-and-capitalize-on-the-name-of-a-closed-business-to-steal-thousands-from-consumers-across-the-nation), [scam tracker](https://www.bbb.org/all/scamstudies/virtual_vehicle_vendor_scam_study/virtual_vehicle_vendor_scam_full_study), or report a scam. For interviews, contact CEO, Carl Bates or the Vice President of BBB CSAL Education, Monde Donaldson.

## Frequently Asked Questions

### What is the BBB’s advice for spotting online vehicle scams?

BBB suggests that consumers do the following:

* Physically view the vehicle, if possible.
* Be skeptical about deals that appear to be too good to be true.
* Avoid electronic transfers; opt for Cashiers Checks done in person.
* Opt for vehicle pickup rather than awaiting delivery.
* Resist high-pressure sales techniques.
* Use approved VIN Lookup websites to verify vehicle history.

### What are the common features of these online vehicle scams?

Most scams involve fake websites that mimic legitimate classic car dealerships. They often steal pictures, contact information, and even Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) from genuine sellers. They may block communication after a transaction or fail to deliver a promised vehicle.

### What is the average loss consumers experience from these scams?

The average loss in fraudulent vehicle sale and escrow scams is around $12,600. However, we’ve seen cases where consumers have lost amounts as large as $25,000 to $36,000.