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Con Artists Target Collector Car Buyers In Scam

Motorious logo Motorious 2/14/2019 Elizabeth Puckett
a blue car parked in a parking lot© Autoclassics

Ten people were arrested this week after posing as car dealers. U.S. Federal Prosecutors have explained that criminals homed in on enthusiasts searching for luxury marques and muscle cars online, before defrauding them of hard earned cash.

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According to procurators announcing the charges, the group operated out of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United States. “The defendants’ once-lucrative joyride is over,” Geoffrey Berman, a Manhattan U.S. Attorney, explained during his statement on Wednesday.

So how did they run this scam? Basically, the criminals were feeding on the hopes of car buyers. Pretending to sell them their dream car, they would first setup a fake online persona, posing as a car dealer or private owner with a car collection. They would then post with their fake profiles on well-known online auction sites.

Once a buyer demonstrated interest in their listing, the crooks would negotiate the sale, come to an agreement on the price with the buyer, request down payments and shipping cost, and finally ask buyers to pay transportation companies to ship their car. However, the cars never showed up.

The companies that received the funds were established as shell corporations that enabled the scammers to immediately withdraw payments before the victims realized there was no chance of them getting the car. When the targets caught on that something was wrong, they were unable to recover their money, and then were stuck with having to repay the loans they got to buy the vehicles in the first place.

There’s no word on how long this went on, or exactly how many people are victimized by the group. Considering the cars mentioned, the amount stolen is likely staggering. If the defendants are convicted, they could be locked behind bars for as much as 30 years - let’s hope no one let’s them near a computer during that time.

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