BBB Alert: Dream Auto Center, Millennium Motors Hijack St. Louis Address To Scam Consumers

  
     
June 26, 2014

Dream Motor Center websiteSt. Louis, Mo., June 26, 2014 – The owner of a St. Louis County auto repair business said thieves have hijacked her company’s address and used it to steal tens of thousands of dollars from prospective car buyers across the nation, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.

BBB urges that consumers avoid Dream Auto Center or Millennium Auto Center, both of which list an address at 2334 North Lindbergh Blvd. Neither company is located in that building, which actually houses British Cars Restorations & Services.

The businesses also have used the names Dream Motors, Dream Motors Center, Dream Motor Center and Millennium Motors

“I feel really sorry for them,” Adrianne Key, an owner of British Cars, said of customers scammed by the two phony companies. Key said she has been contacted by 30 to 40 consumers who said they believed they were buying vehicles from Dream or Millennium auto centers. She said one man who came from Seattle, Wash., to pick up a GMC Yukon Denali told her he already had paid more than $40,000 for the vehicle.

British Cars Restorations & Services
Scammers used the address for British Cars Restorations & Services in Overland, Mo., to trick vehicle buyers into thinking they had a physical location.

A St. Louis County Police detective said an out-of-state police agency asked him to check out the Lindbergh location after a consumer claimed she had been swindled out of several thousand dollars in a phony car deal. When the detective determined the consumer had been scammed, he suggested she contact federal authorities.

The BBB alert is the second in a month involving vehicle sales scams. Last month, BBB reported that a St. Louis woman lost $4,700 in an Internet vehicle sales scheme.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said buyers have to be extremely careful when negotiating to buy a vehicle from anyone they don’t know. “It’s a simple matter for thieves to set up a fancy-looking website, fake some photos and fabricate a few sales documents,” she said. “Consumers have to be smart enough and careful enough to avoid these crooks.”

Two consumers have filed recent BBB complaints against the companies – one against Millennium and one against Dream Motors. In both cases, the consumers said they found the phony listings on the cars.com website.

In the Millennium case, a consumer from Pearland, Texas, said he wired an $8,400 down payment in December for purchase of a BMW auto.  When the car did not arrive as expected, he contacted authorities who told him he had been scammed.

In the Dream Motors case, a consumer from Philadelphia, Pa., said he made a $5,000 down payment earlier this month on a BMW that he never received. “Five thousand dollars is a lot of money,” he said. “It’s run me crazy.”

Key said one potential buyer from Texas arrived at her shop three weeks ago, with cash in hand to buy a 2009 Range Rover that was supposed to be at the business. She said the man was upset that he had come all the way to St. Louis for nothing.

Just this week, Key and BBB warned a man from Rosemont, Minn., away from making a $6,500 down payment on a 2011 Infinity from Dream Auto Center.

Key said one consumer showed her a photo of a beautiful warehouse filled with vehicles that were supposed to be at the Lindbergh address. She said the photo was not taken at her business.

“I just don’t want any more people hurt,” she said.

BBB offers the following tips for people shopping for vehicles online or from unfamiliar people or businesses:

  • Try to deal only with established businesses when looking for a vehicle. Verify that a business is legitimate and has a physical address. Never send money in advance for a car or truck unless you have thoroughly checked out the seller and are convinced the offer is real.
  • Be especially wary about paying money using wire transfers like MoneyGram or Western Union, or by giving a seller the access code to a Green Dot MoneyPak or similar loadable card. Such money transfers are very difficult to trace.
  • If the seller suggests going through a third party, like eBay, to secure the transaction, make certain that you have confirmed the sale through the third party. Never trust that a phone number belongs to a business without verifying it independently.  This usually can be done by researching the business’ phone number online and calling it to confirm.
  • Scammers use low prices to lure victims.  If the price of a vehicle seems unusually low, it may be a scheme to steal your money.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you need to challenge the charge.
  • Be cautious of purchasing any vehicle without a full inspection.
  • Ask that the seller supply information about the vehicle in writing, including mileage, history and any warranty.
  • Do not be influenced by a professional-looking website, address or phone number. All of these can be faked.
  • Contact BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.  Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.