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OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 8, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond is cautioning Oklahomans to be aware of a prevalent scam involving online car sales. In these scenarios, scammers post an online advertisement selling a car or other vehicle at a steeply discounted price. The ad may appear on a website of what seems to be a legitimate out-of-state dealership or auction site, and often includes photos matching the description of the for-sale car and even vehicle identification numbers. Sometimes the scammer purports to be connected to a well-known company, even providing contact information that appears legitimate.

When a prospective buyer inquires how the price can be so low or asks to see the car, the scammer has a credible-sounding excuse at the ready.

For the purchase, the scammer typically instructs the buyer to use a wire transfer or prepaid gift card. Once that transaction is complete, the scammer may even provide tracking information or other apparent delivery instructions. Soon after the scammer halts communications and disappears, and the car is never delivered.

“This scam has long been a favorite of criminals and incidents of it appear to be on the rise over the past year,” Drummond said. “When buying a car online, be extra vigilant. These unscrupulous actors can sound convincing. Don’t be afraid to push back and ask questions, and never be rushed into making large purchases like these.”

The Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s office offers tips to avoid falling victim to this scam:

  • If a price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Always verify the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN. The 17-character VIN can be found on various websites such as the National Insurance Crime Bureau (nicb.org/vincheck).
  • Always inspect a car before purchase. Do not accept excuses that the car is not currently in the seller’s possession.
  • Don’t pay by wire or other non-reversible forms of payment that are hard to trace.
  • Only pay for a vehicle after you have received it.