BBB Warns Consumers about Ron’s Auto Sales Online Scam

  
     
May 30, 2017

Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is warning consumers nationwide to be careful when shopping for vehicles online. There are many opportunities to get scammed with online auto purchases. Increased online research can put consumers in the line of fire with scammers. Knowing what to look for and what to avoid can save you headaches and a lot of money.

A consumer from Arizona reported to BBB he had purchased a “49” Chevy pickup that was advertised by ronsautosalestopeka.com. He contacted “Ron’s Auto Sales” through cars.com. Allegedly, it was located in Topeka, KS at 4700 SW Topeka Blvd. The “salesperson” sold him the truck for $16,050. This payment was sent by a wire transfer to New York to be deposited into an account for “Reinfield Car Corp.”

The truck did not arrive in Arizona on the date promised.  When the buyer called about the delivery, he was told that the vehicle hauling the truck broke down so delivery would be delayed several days.  The truck never arrived, and the consumer has been unable to reach the “salesperson.”

A BBB investigation found that “Ron's Auto Sales” is advertising vehicles on cars.com and on ronsautosalestopeka.com. However, this entity has stolen the identity of a former company in Topeka that had the same name. Ron’s Auto Sales closed in 2012. Today, there is a different kind of business located at 4700 SW Topeka Blvd.

Further investigation revealed that Ron's Auto Sales is not operating a business anywhere in Topeka, Kansas, and the Ron who owned this business is currently employed at another car dealership in Topeka. He confirmed that the property had been sold. Ron also told BBB that someone had recently come to his home to pick up a vehicle for a person in New York that had allegedly been purchased through “Ron’s Auto Sales.” Of course, there was no vehicle, and Ron reported this incident to the Topeka police.

BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty warns, “Shoppers should never trust sales ads for vehicles or other expensive items advertised on a website without thoroughly checking out the seller and the vehicle. If the seller’s identity cannot be verified, don’t send money. Paying someone you do not know – especially using difficult-to-trace payments like wire transfer services or loadable cards – can be a huge mistake. If the seller’s story seems suspect, or the price tag seems unusually low, you could be asking for trouble.”

BBB offers the following advice for persons shopping for vehicles online:

  • Try to deal only with established businesses when looking for a vehicle online. 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 a similar loadable card. Such money transfers may be impossible 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 likely is 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.
  • Contact the BBB at 800-649-6814 or visit BBB's website at bbbinc.org to check on a business, and obtain advice on how to determine whether you are being scammed.