The Better Business Bureau wants you to use caution if buying a vehicle online. At least a half-dozen people have lost between $2,800 and $9,500 by wiring money to purchase vehicles through fraudulent vehicle shipping companies. At least 18 claim to be based in Springfield, Missouri. Most seem to have at least some connection to a business called Springfield Shippers, according to BBB investigator Don O'Brien, who says when purchasing any vehicle, it's wise to take it for a test drive.
Red flags that you might be dealing with a scammer include: The seller shares a sad story and can’t meet face-to-face or let you inspect the vehicle. A third party handles the money and/or shipping. In an effort to appear legitimate, the seller tells you that the third party, whether eBay or an escrow service, will refund your money if you don't like the vehicle. And a big one is if the payment is by wire transfer. Scammers avoid payment by personal or cashier’s check, PayPal, credit card or any other traceable method.