Statewide Iowa — The consumer protection division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office reports an upturn in the number of complaints about fake car dealerships appearing online.
Ashley Kieler, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office, says crooks are building sophisticated websites that mirror legitimate dealerships and they’re luring in customers with great deals on vehicles they don’t own.
Supply chain issues stemming from the economic slowdown of the pandemic are making it difficult to find new or used cars, forcing potential buyers to search outside their local areas.
One recent complaint came from a Texas man who lost 38-thousand dollars while trying to buy a Porsche from what appeared to be a legitimate dealership in Waterloo that ended up being a carefully crafted scam.
Before purchasing a vehicle, the AG’s office recommends you always see the vehicle in person. You can also check the Iowa DOT’s list of registered auto dealers here: https://iowadot.gov/mvd/buyingselling/dealers.pdf. That table is updated monthly and will tell you the legal name of the dealer, the dealer number, and the address. Check that information against the information given to you by the online dealer.
If you think you’re dealing with a scammer, report it to the Iowa Attorney General’s office at 888-777-4590.