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MARKETANALYST.US / NEWS

BBB Sounds Alarm for Buying Cars Online, Says Car Scams Are on the Rise

Wilkinson fell for the advertisement as it was posted by a fake Facebook account of somebody he knew.
PUBLISHED APR 9, 2024
Cover Image Source: Online car scams on the rise (representative image) | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Online car scams on the rise (representative image) | Pexels

Scammers have found yet another way to target car buyers. Now, the Better Business Bureau is sounding the alarm for online car scams saying that there were more than 696 reports of car buying-related scams nationwide from 2021-2023. Therefore, if you are somebody looking to buy a car online, it's important to watch out for these scams, which are especially prevalent on social media sites like Facebook, and X. Something along the lines happened with a social media user, Bud Wilkinson, who was browsing through his Facebook when he came across a Facebook ad. In the ad, a woman was seemingly selling a 2012 Honda Accord for $2,000.



"These things happen, and this could happen to anyone," Wilkinson told WFSB. “What decent car sells for $2000 these days? It was way below market value,” said Wilkinson who now knows that the price was a major red flag. "This should have raised a bell in my head, the seller said can you send the money to my cousin?" said Wilkinson. However, Wilkinson fell for the advertisement as it was posted by a fake account of somebody he knew. The whole incident serves as a reminder that scams can happen to anybody at any time.



Experts say that scammers are taking advantage of the fact that they can't see the car. "One of the hallmarks of this scam is that the person is unable to see the car in person. Always see the car in person. At the very least, do a video chat," said Kristin Johnson with BBB Serving Connecticut. It is not only through these ads, that the scammers are trying to fraud people. Some are even targeting customers by posing as a car research company.

"They are creating websites that look like accident report websites where you can look up a car’s history. This happened to a woman here in Connecticut. She paid $1 to look up a car’s history. Soon she received a $30 charge on her credit card and an email saying that she was now going to be charged $30 every two weeks for a subscription she unknowingly signed up for," said Johnson.

Another business owner spoke to News 5 and expressed his concern over the whole matter. "It’s out of control," said David Heinrichs, owner of Heinrichs Vintage Car Shop. Heinrichs, too, lost money when he went online to buy a classic car.

Negative Space | Pexels
Negative Space | Pexels

"I let my website expire and then some scammers picked it up after the domain became available, and what they did is they used my home page with all my information, my phone number, and my business address, and if you clicked on their sales, it went to a completely new website," Heinrichs told ABC News 5. Moreover, he talked about the sheer volume of these scams saying that he has known six people who have been scammed over $200,000.

So what can we do as consumers? Experts recommend everyone to be cautious at all times and verify the seller. Experts also insist on paying with credit cards as that makes the reversal of the transaction easier. Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is!

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