BBB Warns Car Shoppers About Online Dealer Scam

August 05, 2010

DAYTON, OHIO, July 7, 2010 - Your Better Business Bureau is warning car shoppers to beware of Web sites offering too-good-to-be-true deals on repossessed cars. Your BBB has heard from people across the country who thought they were buying from reputable dealers online, but were actually sending money to scammers posing as legitimate, already-established community dealerships.

“Because scammers essentially steal identities and good names of real auto dealers, car shoppers will think they’re buying cars from reputable businesses,” said John North, BBB president and CEO. “The truth is they’re generally being sold a bill of goods by an overseas outfit of scammers.”

Most recently, one Memphis auto dealer, America Auto Sales (, received more than 1,000 calls from people across the country who had shopped for new cars on thinking it was the Memphis dealership’s Web site. The phony site used the real dealer’s name, address and contact information.

The fraudulent Web site claimed to sell repossessed cars at prices well below market. Buyers were instructed to wire deposits—as much as $5,000—to individuals rather than the company, which, according to the phony Web site, “helps us avoid taxes legally.” Balances were to be paid upon delivery at consumers’ addresses within five days.

After paying deposits, victims called the real dealership to arrange car deliveries. Some customers even showed up at the lot to pick up the cars they’d “bought” on the bogus site.

Similar Web sites have posed as many different dealers in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas. The sites are often taken down after a few days only to crop up shortly thereafter under different URL addresses and the auspices of other legitimate dealers.

Your BBB recommends you look for the following red flags when shopping for a car online:

· The prices are too good to be true.

· The dealer only communicates through chat or e-mail—never by phone.

· The dealer only accepts payment by money wire transfer.

Contact your BBB for more information or if you’ve been the victim of phony online auto dealers. Visit or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. You can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Center at


About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley

Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit for more information about your BBB.