Article

Scam Artst Twist: It's Not Just For Dealers Anymore

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Harlene Doane - Also by this author

Many dealers are aware of the various scams that have transpired over the last few years involving fraudulent cashiers’ checks to purchase vehicles at the dealership. Some are probably even aware of some online shenanigans involving similar set-ups. The routine varies usually only by the value of the vehicle involved. The higher the value of the vehicle the more reason to actually secure the vehicle, however when the value of the vehicle is low the goal becomes cash pure and simple. But did you know that these scams are on the rise again and their targets are your friends, neighbors and customers?
The latest NON-Victim was my husband. We have a 1978 Cadillac Eldarodo Biarritz that he is ready to sell. He listed it in the local ThriftyNickel (Trader) type of newspaper for two weeks. One evening he gets a call from a “foreign sounding” gentlemen claiming that he has been looking for one to restore. The man asks several questions about the vehicle and its condition, giving my husband his name and phone number. Before the conversation was over, he had agreed to purchase the vehicle. My husband was suspicious of a man calling from Canada who supposedly found our ad online, who is willing to purchase sight unseen and pick the vehicle up in two days.

I, of course, being even more suspicious, ran the name and phone number through every resource the magazine and Web site has. I discovered that the number is a cell phone number in Alberta, Canada but nothing more was available. I warn my husband that it is likely a scam. Two days later the gentleman calls back to tell my husband that UPS should deliver his check and when he gets it could he please call so that the driver can arrange to pick up the vehicle. Sure enough, less than 30 minutes later UPS delivers a check for the vehicle. My husband immediately faxes this cashier’s check to me. It took all of about 2 seconds for me to identify that it was fraudulent. Guess this crook was having a bad day, trying to pull this scam on my family. One thing magazine editors know all too well is the different type fonts. The fonts didn’t match on the check, and it was written for more than twice the value of the vehicle. Within 10 minutes we had put the First Credit Union in Tempe, AZ on alert, called the local sheriff and prepared how to handle Mr. Ray Martins.

When Mr. Martins called back an hour later, he stated that apparently his bookkeeper had mistakenly written the check for more than $2000 too much and asked if we could just cut him a check for the overpayment. My ever-patient husband let him finish his tale then said, “Ray you know I’ve already checked you and your check out, and you are both frauds. Your check is no good.” Mr. Martins response was simple, “I’ll get back with you after I speak with my bank.”

The moral of this story is that anyone can be a target, criminals aren’t choosey and sometimes they are just stupid and have bad luck when selecting a victim. As a dealer, you obviously must keep your own employees in the loop. Additionally, you have the opportunity to educate the public regarding these scams. Dealers are always looking for methods to increase positive public perception and educating the consumer is always a good place to start. So the next time a customer tells you that they won’t be trading their vehicle in but instead selling it on their own, maybe you should explain what they might have to deal with.


Vol 3, Issue 2

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