Online vehicle fraud

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – When shopping for a car online, lookout for imitation websites. So many people are getting scammed that "Kelley Blue Book"  and the FBI have issued warnings.

The auto-information company says shoppers should remember this about "Kelley Blue Book": It does car reviews and offers price information, among other shopping tools. It does not sell cars or buyer protection plans.

The scam has variations, but the shopper usually gets snagged by a fake ad on a reputable website, like Craigslist. Today, a conspicuous pop up fraud warning greets consumers searching for cars and trucks for sale, but typically a bogus listing is selling a vehicle at a price too good to pass.

The interested buyer emails the seller through an address in the ad. The seller responds with a hard-luck story about divorce or military deployment to explain why he's selling the car at such a low price. The scammer promises a  money back guarantee if the vehicle isn't delivered and convinces the buyer to move the transaction to another website masquerading as "Kelley Blue Book."

The buyer is then instructed to deposit or wire partial or full payment for the vehicle to an escrow account that operates as a buyer protection plan, and to fax a receipt to show it's been done. The two agree upon a delivery date which may involve a 5-day wait.

By the time the shopper discovers he was scammed on a spoofed website and a bogus ad, the money is long gone and the car never delivered.

Scammers are sophisticated. Some use 800 numbers and live chats with potential buyers to ease their concerns. Experts say checkout the domain name or the URL, because these imitation websites look so much like legitimate company sites.

"Kelley Blue Book" says any escrow based protection plan offered under its name is a scam.

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