We have a great quality of life in Colorado Springs. Our weather is outstanding for outdoor fun, our neighbors always come together in times of crisis; such as wild fires and there are countless opportunities for professional advancement for those with the grit to work hard. However, like in any community where life is good, there is a scammer waiting in a dark corner- with a plan – without conscience - without care who they hurt. There is a brewing force of said scam artists around the US focusing on car buyers, and Perkins motors wants to equip you with some tools in case you or your loved one or friend comes face to face with someone trying to falsely sell a car to them or you.
There has been a surge in online car buying in recent years, especially with used cars. This has led to a rise in fraud. Crooks post ads for nonexistent cars, shoppers wire funds for the vehicle, and, poof, that money vanishes into thin air. Once that happens, not much you can do.
We bet you didn’t know that auto fraud accounts for 12 percent of all online purchase scams, totaling $64 million in consumer losses, according to the most recent Internet Crime Complaint Center annual report. We were blown away at that statistic, and you should be too!
Our research along with news accounts report scammers entice their victims with incredibly cheap prices and the promise of using a shipping service to deliver the vehicle. They'll also demand immediate payment due to some ridiculous reason, such as military deployment or a tragic family emergency. In COS this could be particularly effective with all of our military neighbors in the region. Victims then send an unrecoverable payment through a money transfer or money order for a nonexistent vehicle.
The average amount of money lost on one of these scams is $3,700, according to the Internet Criminal Complaint Center.
Perkins motors has a few tips you (along with friends and family) should follow in order to prevent yourself from used car fraud:
1. Wire your payment, NEVER!
Legitimate dealers will never ask for a wire transfer. If you're dealing with a private seller and they want you to us something like Western Union, request an alternate form of payment. Scammers use wire transfers because it is essentially the same thing as sending cash in the mail. Once the money is gone, it cannot be recovered.
2. Talk to seller on the phone, we all have one!
A seller making excuses for not being able to speak on the phone is a big red flag. By speaking with the seller (email doesn't count), you can get more info on the background and history of the person or business.
3. Slow down, be the turtle
If a seller says the vehicle is being held by a transportation company and will ship as soon as payment is received, take a minute to call the shipping company to validate the arrangement. Scammers love to pressure their victims into quickly sending payment with fake sob stories or really low prices on the car. You need to be diligent, do your homework and take your time with a big purchase like this.
4. Examine information carefully, be your own detective
A listing with stock images of the car without a visible license plate is an indication of a scam. If there are pictures, make sure the colors, body work and other distinguishing features match up with the description.
5. CARFAX® report
Scammers like to pull real CARFAX® reports of cars that do exist for their fake listings. You absolutely should order your own vehicle history report. The National Insurance Crime maintains a free database that includes flood damage and other information so consumers can investigate a car's history. Always check that the registration or license plate matches the seller's name.
A few additional tips are: never paying cash for a car, and checking the vehicle's identification number against the national database, which is available on the state's Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Be safe out there. Always keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t feel right when you or family/friends are in the market for a car. Scammers are always upping their game and we want you and your hard earned money to remain safe and spent on real items.
- Crystal Johnston, marketing manager