KAKE On Your Side: Online Car Scams

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Car scams on Craigslist or other websites are nothing new, but the scope of those scams is getting much deeper.

Ask Tom Grigsby, a Virginia man who decided to look online while he was shopping for a new RV. He found the perfect deal through a business called Wichita Insured Deliveries. Or so he thought.

"You had to contact through Craigslist, which I don't really like but it was a nice camper," he said.
The seller claimed to be in the U.S. Air Force and was being transferred to Alaska, so he needed to sell the vehicle right away.

At first, it all checked out. A contract was mailed with a return guarantee, there were frequent responses to his emails and the company even had an elaborate website with customer testimonials. A phone number was listed and even an address was on display.

But Grigsby still felt like something was wrong.

"A little bit of the wording on the contract was just a touch odd," he said. "The English wasn't quite as proper as it should be."

The red flag that turned him off - the emailer asked for money to be wired.

"I got to thinking about - you're wiring the money," he said. "Once you wire transfer money, it's gone. You can't get it back."

With that sinking feeling, Grigsby cut off all contact - and he's not alone. The Kansas Better Business Bureau has received dozens of calls from the U.S. and Canada in recent weeks about Wichita Insured Deliveries.

KAKE News Reporter Greg Miller went to the address listed on the website - but there was not auto shipping company there. The company that did exist operated in a completely different industry.

"The address on the website is phoney, we're able to link it to several different websites of auto shipping companies across the country," said Denis Groene, State Director of Better Business Bureau of Kansas. "The websites look professional, they're very easy to believe."

The website looked professional but after some searching, it also looked familiar. The same exact site was also used for several other companies based across the country.

"The problem is that these folks aren't within the United States," she said. "They're overseas, which is very difficult to track and the websites are popping up within a week."

In the Wichita case, records show the site was just created on September 14th. The BBB said typically when word spreads that it's fake, scammers shut them down and open up a new one with a different name.

"It's like a cat and mouse game. As soon as they close one they pop up five more," Groene said.

The BBB offers the following advice when shopping for vehicles online:

  • Try to deal only with established businesses when looking for a vehicle online.
  • Be especially wary about paying money using wire transfers
  • If the seller suggest going through a third party to secure th transaction, make certain that you have confirmed the sale through the third party.
  • Scammers use low prices to lure victims.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible
  • Be cautious of purchasing any vehicle without a full inspection.

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