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CAR SCAMS

Online fraudsters often gain trust or sympathy by pretending to be military members about to be deployed. These scammers typically use military rank or title; will only communicate by email; offer a used vehicle at far below market value; promise delivery and a refund policy; and request payment through wire transfer, gift cards or website. They advertise through a variety channels including what may appear to be legitimate websites for used car dealerships. After the transaction is complete, the criminal ignores all follow-up calls, text messages, or e-mails from the buyer or may demand additional payments. In the end, the vehicle is not delivered and the buyer is never able to recuperate their losses.

In 2019 the Public Affairs Office at Malmstrom AFB received numerous requests to verify that a recently widowed female sergeant, training at Malmstrom to deploy with her medical team, needs to sell her deceased husband's vehicle. 'Sellers' using this or a similar profile, and who could not be matched in the Air Force global directory, include:

- Sgt. Sarah Biazar
- Sgt. Katherine Galston
- Sgt. Sydney Gibbon
- Sgt. Maria Peterson
- Sgt. Sylvia Schumacher
- Sgt. Marsha Schuman
- Sgt. Angela Sholes
- Sgt. Lola Richardson
- Laura Richardson
- Daisy Jensen
- Lynn Pfeiffer
- Emily Sanders

Below is an actual message from a known, reoccurring scam profile to a potential buyer:

"Right now I'm in a military base Malmstrom AFB, Montana. We are training, getting ready for leaving the country. The delivery process will be managed by me. I think I can have it there at your home address within 2 working days. It will come with a clear title and reg. I am a member of the eBay buyer protection program and using this service you will get a 5 days testing period after delivery. During that 5 days testing period I will not be getting any money. I need to know if you are interested so I can ask eBay to send you the details on this deal. If interested just email with your legal name (your right full name 'cause it will appear on the papers), full postal address where you want the car delivered and your cell phone # where you can be reached so we can get the ball rolling."

A Tucson television station investigated in October 2019 and provided a warning to its viewers:
https://kvoa.com/news/n4t-investigators/2019/10/07/n4t-investigators-bbb-warning-about-new-twist-on-old-scam/

More information about this type of scam can be found at:
https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/buying-a-car-online-read-this-first

The FBI offers these tips for avoiding fraudulent online vehicle sales:

- If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
- Use the Internet to research the advertised item and the seller’s name, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and other unique identifiers.
- Use the Internet to research the company’s contact information and its shipping and payment policies before completing a transaction. Ensure the legitimacy of the contact information and that the company accepts the requested payment option.
- Avoid sellers who refuse to meet in person, or who refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
- Ask for the vehicle’s VIN, license plate (if possible), and the name of the individual to whom the car is currently registered.
- Criminals take extra effort to disguise themselves and may have recognizable words in their e-mail name or domain. If you are suspicious or unsure about an e-mail that claims to be from a legitimate business, locate the business online and contact them directly.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of this scam, please file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov