Can you imagine buying a tractor and losing thousands of dollars? For a San Antonio man, David Wieder, that’s exactly what happened in this vehicle purchase scam. It was the summer of 2019, when David went online to research buying a Bobcat tractor. It made sense for him to contact a person from the Dallas, Texas region and he found what he wanted.
The tractor he liked and wanted to purchase was listed on a consignment dealer site called “Total Auto Depot Group”. While David had never heard of the site before, he used a basic search engine to perform additional research and found out they were connected with an “international group”. From what David read, the group had been around since the 2000’s and seemed to have multiple locations, including phone numbers.
David trusted this meant they were a credible site to do purchase his tractor from. He spoke with a live customer service person and was even provided with information about the tractor. The company produced the seller’s credentials, detailed information about the VIN number, a bill of sale, and other expected legal paperwork. The papers he received even had a “follow-up section” for any questions or concerns he might have. He felt confident and proceeded.
Excited to buy his new tractor, he paid the seller by money wire. That was the seller’s requested method of sale and David felt it was safe, since he had all the legal documentation completed. A few days after the money wire, David heard back from the seller saying that the money hadn’t arrived and that he needed to send it to a new account. This made David suspicious, so he contacted the seller and, then, his bank. Contacting the seller didn’t work and, worse, the bank said the funds couldn’t be retracted.
According to consumer agencies and the Better Business Bureau, scams are increasing and becoming more crafty and complex.
Here is How to Avoid the Annoying Vehicle Purchase Scam
1. Never advance pay. This means that no money exchange should take place until you have the vehicle and bill of sale in hand. Do not pay by money wire, gift card, etc.
2. Do not complete sales online. Do not pay online or exchange the sale information online. Only buy and pay for vehicles you have test driven and know exist.
3. Too good to be true… isn’t. Any sale that is thousands less than others of its kind is (almost) guaranteed to be a scam.
4. Ask to speak with the seller by phone, before you meet. This will scare off 419 scammers and other overseas scam artists.
5. Before you buy any vehicle, ask for the VIN #, check the vehicle’s history and reporting, and have it looked at by a mechanic.
6. Report scams or suspected theft or fraud to your bank and financial institutions, the FTC, and the BBB.
The worst aspect for David Wieder was being unable to get his money back. He learned his lesson the hard way and shared with spectrumlocalnews.com that those who want to make purchases online should step back and have family or friends review the sale. While recognizing red flags is half the battle and organizations that protect consumers, such as the BBB, do their best… you can still find organizations like the one that scammed David on the BBB website.
Try searching the “smart” way and using an algorithm-based search site like Social Catfish. Social Catfish can help you search by a seller or buyer’s email address, name, username, phone number, or even profile picture. Find out if someone is who they claim to be with a quick and easy background check. This will give you some reassurance, when combined with other smart consumer techniques and avoiding online seller red flags and that pesky vehicle purchase scam!