The Maine Attorney General’s office issued a warning Thursday about an ongoing online scam involving the fraudulent sale of used and antique motor vehicles.
Scammers are impersonating Maine businesses and individuals associated with those businesses, using their names to advertise vehicles for sale and trick buyers into wiring thousands of dollars for vehicles they will never receive, the AG’s office said in a press release.
These scammers are registering fraudulent website domains using the names of Maine businesses, as well as email addresses associated with those domains. Although not physically based in Maine, they are spoofing phone numbers with 207 area codes. The scammers are also using legitimate-looking documents, such as Bills of Sale with vehicle details and VIN numbers, and have accounts at major U.S. banks to receive funds.
Victims of the scam have reported wiring thousands of dollars under the assumption that they are purchasing vehicles from a Maine business. After receiving the money, the scammers may continue to communicate about the delivery of the vehicle, providing plausible excuses and even tracking information.
Eventually, however, they cease communication and the vehicle never arrives.
The AG’s office does not believe any Maine business or individual is associated with the scam.
Victims of this scam are urged to submit a consumer complaint to the Maine Attorney General’s office using the online form and to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
If you are considering a similar transaction involving a business based in Maine, please contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Maine Attorney General’s office immediately at (207) 626-8849.