According to IC3, criminals are selling vehicles they don’t own online to unsuspecting buyers.
Criminals create an attractive deal by advertising vehicles for sale at prices below book value. Often the sellers purport they need to sell the vehicle because they are being moved for work or deployed for the military. Because of the alleged pending move, criminals refuse to meet in person or allow inspection of the vehicle, and they often attempt to rush the sale. To make the deal appear legitimate, the criminal instructs the victim to send full or partial payment to a third-party agent via a wire transfer payment service and to fax their payment receipt to the seller as proof of payment. The criminal pockets the payment but does not deliver the vehicle.
In order to lend an air of legitimacy to the offer, the fraudsters will use names of well-known companies, implying association. IC3 goes on to warn consumers of a new twist that could further convince buyers it is safe to proceed:
In a new twist, criminals use a live chat feature in email correspondence and electronic invoices. As live chat assistants, the criminals answer victims’ questions and assure victims that the deals are safe, claiming that safeguards are in place to reimburse the buyer for any loss. The criminals falsely assert that their sales are protected by liability insurance coverage up to $50,000.
Planning on purchasing a car online? Read IC3’s tips for avoiding these kinds of schemes.