Many people are buying more online these days – even vehicles.
The Better Business Bureau says there are lots of online platforms that list vehicles for low prices, with sellers offering to make third-party delivery arrangements if the buyer pays via escrow.
In reality, neither the automobile nor the escrow company exists, leaving the buyer without their money or their vehicle.
A new study by the BBB found thousands of people have fallen victim to this scam, with losses in the millions of dollars.
According to the study, websites like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook are full of advertisements for low-price vehicles, with seemingly eager sellers often claiming that the reduced price is because of an upcoming military assignment overseas, a divorce, or the death of a family member.
Victims are directed to pay a supposedly independent third party, typically by wire transfer, to hold money and ship the vehicle.
However, no vehicle is ever delivered.
Scammers sometimes invent fake websites connected to shipping companies with addresses in towns across the U.S., particularly the Midwest.
Those sometimes use the names and addresses of real businesses or car dealerships.