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BBB warns of rise in online vehicle sales fraud

Reference: CTV News

VANCOUVER -- Over the course of the pandemic, British Columbians have been finding new ways of getting away while regular travel is off the table. Camping, RVing and road trips have all become even more popular than they were already, but the Better Business Bureau says that’s led to a rise in online vehicle sales fraud.

Karla Laird, of the Mainland BBB, says because COVID-19 has changed so many people’s lifestyles, there are lots of vehicles available for sale online. Two-car families that now work from home might be looking to get rid of one, and others are experiencing financial hardships that push them to sell.

“There are very good deals out there,” she says. “The challenge is that scammers have picked up on this trend as well and have started to capitalize on the situation.”

Laird says scammers are posting ads for cars and RVs online at discounted prices, and giving a fraudulent story of why they’re selling – such as a family member in the hospital, or a sudden move.

That’s what Danika Woodburn suspects happened to her.

In 2019, she and her husband were looking to buy a trailer, and found an excellently priced Airstream Bambi for sale in B.C.

“It was listed at $16,000, which is low for market value so I was initially a little bit suspicious,” Woodburn says. “It looked to be in excellent condition and the seller, when I contacted them via email, sent me many pictures of the interior and exterior. All of them seemed to be in immaculate condition.”

She had found the seller on Autotrader, and sent them an email. She got the following response:

“This camper has absolutely no mechanical problems, no accidents, no leaks or problems.

I am letting it go with shipping and handling included. The camper is now in Prince Rupert , BC, ready to be delivered to its buyer with all the documents.

Because I am not able to close the deal myself, (I am currently with my husband in the hospital for a series of heart investigations), I want to use a third party to handle the sale. This way we are both protected.

Let me know if you're interested and if you have questions.”

Woodburn says the suggestion of a third party made her even more suspicious, so she checked out the broker’s website.

“There were transport trucks and shipping containers with graphics saying the company's name, but on closer inspection I was pretty confident that many of them were photoshopped,” she says. “So I called the contact number on the website and reached a gentleman who identified himself as Mike, and he answered (my) many questions, was quite articulate and explained exactly how the process worked with them brokering the deal.” ... Read More