FBI warns consumers of fraud artists selling vehicles on internet

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The FBI is warning online shoppers to be wary of fraud artists selling vehicles on the Internet.

Online vehicle shoppers should be cautious of sellers who push for speedy sales via money transfer and sellers who refuse to meet in person or allow a vehicle inspection prior to purchase. You also should avoid vehicles advertised well below their market value, according to FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth.

Buyers should also be wary when the seller is in a different location from the buyer and when sellers wish to move the transaction from one website to another, such as from craigslist to eBay. Also problematical, according to the FBI, are sellers who promise a vehicle protection plan from an Internet provider even if the sale did not take place on that company's website.

In fraudulent sales, criminals attempt to sell vehicles they do not own, Foxworth said.

The scammers often attempt to rush the sale claiming an impending move or military deployment, Foxworth said.

The sellers then instructs the victims to transfer money to a third party, Foxworth said, adding that the criminals then pocket the payment but do not deliver the vehicle.

Criminals make their schemes appear legitimate by misusing the names of reputable companies and programs, such as the eBay motors Vehicle Protection Plan, Foxworth said.

The thieves also pose as live chat assistants and answer victims' questions and assure them the deals are safe, claiming safeguards are in place to reimburse buyers for loss, Foxworth said. The criminals allegedly state the sales are protected by insurance of up to $50,000.

The FBI urged anyone who has fallen victim to the scam to file a complaint online at IC3.gov.

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