A huge online scam has victims from across the country believing they've bought a car from a Chattanooga luxury dealer.
The owner of TM Auto Sales realized he was in the middle of an online scam when a man from New York showed up to his business last week wanting to pick up a $60,000 car he said he already paid for.
"The guy was wanting to know where his car was, he sent in the money and he wanted the car," said owner Ray McKee, "And I told him I didn't know what he was talking about."
The man showed McKee a website that had his name, address, a phone number, and lots of luxury vehicles for sale.
It was getting people's attention from across the country --- but all of it was fake.
Now McKee is wondering if he's safe at his own office.
"I'm scared to come to the lot because they don't believe me," he said.
People showed up at his lot saying they've transferred thousands of dollars into his bank account. But McKee says he's a victim of this scam just like the others.
"I've had several phone calls, had several threats, people are going to get their money back or else," he said.
It's still unclear how many people actually made a bank transfer, but for the ones who did, the chances of getting their money back are slim.
"If it's been made any way other than if it is traceable, or some assistance via credit card, they will not get their money back," said Jim Winsett, President of the Chattanooga Better Business Bureau.
Winsett says TM Auto Sales is not a credited business through the BBB, and the company does not have a website, so flags were raised when requests for information started flooding in.
The BBB had 31 inquiries into TM Auto Sales so far this August, the first inquiries all year.
McKee is left wondering why his name and business were used for the scam.
Not a single complaint has been filed against the shop since opening in 2008. TM Auto Sales doesn't even sell cars to the public, only to wholesale auctions.
"These people are smart let me tell you," McKee said, "They can set up a website like this, that was an elaborate website. Nice, nice cars, presented well, had reviews."
The State Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) says all victims, that they know of, have been from out of state.
The website has been taken down, and the state has already stopped another woman in Michigan from spending $30,000 on a new truck for her son.
The BBB wants people to understand these tips before shopping online, especially for high-ticket items:
* If the seller is unfamiliar, check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau * Be aware that no complaints - is no guarantee. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn't meant that the seller is legitimate *Check each web page for its privacy and security settings.. if you can not find it, chances are there are none. *Pay with a credit card -- not a debit card -- because the funds are not taken out of your account immediately.
Sunday, January 21 2018 12:50 AM EST2018-01-21 05:50:24 GMT
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