The Folks Over at Kelly Blue Book Are Feeling, Well, Blue
By Ric Edelman
Are you shopping for a car? Be aware that a scam has targeted Kelly Blue Book, the leading provider of new- and used-car information.
A fake Web site fools users into thinking they are at KBB’s actual site, and the crooks try to trick people into buying cars that don’t exist. KBB says it’s not in the business of selling cars, and any “escrow-based, guaranteed buyer-protection program” is fake. If you encounter any such offer, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
Every 90 minutes, someone files a complaint about a car-buying experience, according to the FBI. And every hour an automobile shopper loses $1,000 through fraudulent Web sites and phony vehicle listings.
If you’re researching vehicles, be aware that imitation Web sites may look and feel much like the real thing. Always check the URL, the actual Web site — in this case www.kbb.com — to ensure you’re on the right site.Here’s how this latest scam typically works:
- A crook goes to a reputable Web site and lists a car for sale that he/she doesn’t own, along with a story about a quick divorce or military deployment that requires fast liquidation of the vehicle at a low price and their inability to execute the sale in person.
- In the second phase, the seller moves the transaction to a fraudulent site where it’s easier to conduct the crime. The alternate site may include guarantees backed by reputable companies and promises to return funds should a vehicle not be delivered. It may use KBB’s logo and similar fonts and colors, but often the site is poorly written with many spelling errors.
- The seller then instructs potential buyers to wire partial or full payment to a third party and fax the seller proof of payment. By the time the buyer realizes what has happened, the money and the seller are gone.
KBB also warns that criminals are using 800 toll-free telephone numbers and offering live chat features to overcome buyers’ fears. Don’t be fooled.