Consumer Alert: BBB says 2 Wisconsin businesses are victims of vehicle ad scam
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you’re shopping online looking for a deal on a RV, boat or vehicle, the Better Business Bureau wants to warn you about a deceptive scheme which has cost people thousands of dollars.
The BBB says the complaints are piling up from people who tell them they were scammed, and paid for a vehicle which never arrived.
“We had 13 consumers reach out to us, not all of them lost money but those that did - the loses are $7,700,” said Susan Bach of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.
The customers tell the BBB they thought they were working with BCO Logistics in Racine County, which according to its website, claims 17 years of experience as a vehicle transport company.
But, the BBB tells us it’s an elaborate scheme stemming from online ads from a seller claiming to be a flight attendant.
“She gave an excuse that she was traveling a lot so she couldn’t be there in person to show the buyer the vehicle, but she needed to get rid of it in a hurry because she was going through a divorce, so she was having this company BCO Logistics handle the sale for her. All you needed to do was wire money to her and BCO Logistics would take care of transporting the vehicle,” said Bach.
BCO Logistics’ website lists a Mt. Pleasant Wisconsin address, but the BBB says that was stolen.
“The address for BCO Logistics was hijacked, that’s actually a moving company that has nothing to do with BCO Logistics or this scam, and that the name BCO Logistics actually is a legitimate company name whose name was being hijacked, both are victims as well in this scam,” said Bach. “They’re getting calls from these angry consumers saying ‘where’s my money, where’s my boat', they don’t know what to do either, and that’s when they reached out to the BBB for assistance.”
The BBB put out a nationwide alert online about the elaborate fraud.
“These vehicles that are supposedly for sale are way below market value and that is another sign of this scam, somebody is selling it for a too good to be true price and they’re in a big hurry to get rid of it and are selling it. So, to protect yourself, know the blue book or market value of vehicle they’re trying to purchase,” said Bach.
The BBB has complaints from people in 11 states, but not in Wisconsin. Officials say one consumer lost $3,000, another lost $32,600, and a third consumer lost $41,900, for a total of $77,000.
They believe the people behind the scam are likely working overseas.
If you had an experience with this company, they urge you to file a complaint.
BBB officials recommend the following tips to avoid losing money when making online vehicle purchases:
- Don’t pay with a wire transfer - pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment. Scammers typically avoid payment by check, credit card or other traceable methods.
- Use a domain registration such as WhoIs.com to discover how long the website has been in existence. Contact information may also be available. Scammers posing as vehicle dealers, brokers, or large vehicle shipping services often direct consumers to a second website to complete the transaction.
- Avoid any transporter or broker what doesn’t prominently display its MC Docket number on its website. Shipping companies are required to register with the U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as have and post a U.S. DOT Motor Carrier Number (MC Docket) to operate in the U.S. The company should post the number on its website and provide it over the phone if asked. You can verify the company at THIS WEBSITE.
- Don’t trust photos since they can be easily copied from the internet. ·Do a reverse image search to see if a photo has been misappropriated from another website. Whenever possible, insist on meeting the seller and inspecting the vehicle before releasing any money.
- Check the vehicles’s book value with legitimate valuation tools - Scammers often lure buyers with prices that are a fraction of the vehicle’s book price so buyers will act quickly. Deals that seem too good to be true usually are.
- Find the contact information listed on the company’s website. A search on Google Maps may show if the location appears to be valid. If a phone number is listed, make a quick call to determine if it’s a working number or even affiliated with the company.
- Check with BBB.org to see a company’s Business Profile, if they have one, and also be sure to review BBB Scam TrackerSM which can provide additional information.
Anyone who has had an experience with BCO Logistics, you’re asked to report it to your local police department, and report it to the website where you saw it posted. In addition, you’re asked to file a complaint with the FBI or the FTC.
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