Waco business impersonated in scam that tricked consumers out of thousands of dollars

  
     
May 17, 2017

The scammer targeted a Waco car dealership and used the company’s name to allegedly defraud consumers in Canada

WACO, Texas – A Waco car dealership is the victim of an imposter scam that targeted Canadian consumers looking to buy luxury vehicles.

BBB became aware of the scam after receiving a tip in February from a Canadian consumer who said a con artist had set up a fake website using Hillside Auto Sales, Inc. name and was scamming Canadians out of thousands dollars by promising the sale and delivery of luxury vehicles. According to the tipper, who wished to remain anonymous, he was lured into the scam when he answered an ad selling a 2013 Mercedes Benz on the autotrader.ca website.

As a result, BBB contacted Hillside Auto Sales, Inc. and spoke to owner Toby Hill. Hill told BBB he too had received several calls from Canadian consumers.

“There’s a guy that is posing as Hillside Auto Sales, which is my car lot, but he’s got this fictitious Internet site up with all these elaborate cars like, BMWs and Bentleys,” Hill said. 

According to the tipper and Hill, the man posing as Hillside Auto Sales goes by Henry Lopez. BBB asked Hill if his company employed anyone with that name, and Hill said they did not.

Hill also confirmed his dealership does not sell any high-end vehicles.

“If you type my address on the Internet, and do a 360 view, you can see that none of my cars are like what the scammer is claiming to sell,” Hill said.

But how did the scam work?

The tipper told BBB after answering the ad online, Henry Lopez emailed him. Lopez claimed to be the manager at Hillside Auto Sales, Inc in Waco. To receive the Mercedes, the tipper was asked to wire more than $30,000. However, the vehicle never arrived.

BBB also received two complaints from consumers in Canada alleging similar stories.

BBB viewed the fictitious website and called the number on the “Contact Us” page. A man claiming to be Henry Lopez answered. When BBB questioned the man about trying to pass off as Hillside Auto Sales, Inc., he said his business was different, but at the same location. Lopez also said he would be issuing refunds to all customers who didn’t receive their vehicle. However, when BBB asked when customers could expect to receive their refund, Lopez ended the call.

BBB repeatedly tried to call Lopez back, but he never responded.

Detective James Head of the Waco Police Department told BBB there is currently no open case since the victims are located outside of their jurisdiction.

BBB also spoke with Canadian law enforcement after Hill claimed he spoke with them and was told a consumer lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I got a call from a police officer out of Canada that told me that a customer sent the scammer $108,000,” Hill said.

Constable Clint Edwards of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said his agency had received reports from consumers who were defrauded out of thousands of dollars. Constable Edwards said he was currently investigating the case.

Phishing can be a problem not only for consumers, but the companies who are impersonated as well. BBB offers these tips to businesses that are spoofed by scammers:

  • Contact law enforcement. If you become aware of a phishing scam impersonating your business, report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Suggest that affected customers forward any phishing emails impersonating your business to the Anti Phishing Working Group, a public-private partnership against cybercrime. Consumers also can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Notify your customers of the scam. If you find out someone is impersonating your business, inform your customers as soon as possible through your social media platforms. Warn them to ignore any suspicious emails or texts from fraudsters pretending to be from your company. Remind them your business would never solicit sensitive personal information through insecure channels like email or text messages.
  • Provide resources for affected consumers. If consumers believe they may be victims of identity theft because of a phishing scam impersonating your business, direct them to www.identitytheft.gov where they can report and recover from identity theft. 

Media Contacts:

Austin

Erin Dufner
512.206.2805
edufner@austin.bbb.org 

Bryan/College Station 

Bill McGuire
979.777.1263
bmcguire@bryan.bbb.org

Corpus Christi/Victoria

Kelly Trevino
361.945.7352
ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org

Permian Basin 

Heather Massey
432.741.2592
hmassey@permianbasin.bbb.org

San Antonio/Laredo

Miguel Segura
210.260.9843
msegura@sanantonio.bbb.org

Waco 

Adam Price
254.449.1567
aprice@waco.bbb.org