Watch out for online car-buying scam, FBI says

Posted at 9:30 AM, Jun 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-25 09:30:14-04

An all-points bulletin has been posted for consumers looking to buy a car online.

"It's a very effective scam," according to Carroll Lachnit with

She says the scam has the FBI and Edmunds teaming up to alert car-shopping consumers.

She says crooks are posting, online, cars for sale that they don't actually own.

"The link to the vehicle history report may be a legitimate vehicle history report for a legitimate car. It's just the person who put the ad in doesn't own it," she says.

Lured by a low price on a great car, the crook's objective, she says, is to get you to wire a down payment or even the full purchase price to a phony escrow account created by the crook.

"And that really is the point at which you're separated from your money and you never hear from them again," according to Lachnit.

The tell-tale signs, of these online car thieves, is their insistence to talk by email, never by phone, and making excuses for refusing to meet in person. "They're in the military and they've been deployed overseas... they've just gotten this great the UK," Lachnit says.

If any of this happens, run, don't walk, she says from someone who's more likely a car thief than care seller.

Lachnit also advises consumers to alert the FBI, as well as others, to your encounters with these car-selling scammers.