Waco Car Dealership’s Name Used to Scam Customers in Canada
A car dealership in Waco was recently victim to an impostor scam that used its name and imagining to scam Canadian consumers out of thousands of dollars.
In a media release, the Better Business Bureau of Central Texas said they were made aware of the scam by a victim who contacted them in February.
The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said they'd answered an ad on autotrader.ca for a 2013 Mercedes Benz. A man claiming to be Henry Lopez then emailed the victim back and said he was the manager of Hillside Auto Sales in Waco and had the victim wire him $30,000 for the car which, of course, never arrived.
The real owner of Hillside Auto Sales, Toby Hill, said he's received several calls from victims who've been swindled by the fake business. He told the Better Business Bureau that police have called too, and that one Canadian officer informed him that a victim had been scammed out of $108,000.
Hill told the BBB his dealership does not sell high-end vehicles, and has never employed anyone by the name of Henry Lopez.
The BBB contacted the scammer via their fake website and spoke on the phone with a man claiming to be Lopez. When questioned, Lopez reportedly said his business was different from Hillside Auto Sales, but at the same location. He said he would issue refunds to customers who didn't receive their vehicles, but when pressed for a time frame in which victims might receive their refunds, he hung up and did not respond to further calls.
Waco police are aware of the scam, but say they can't open a case since the crime is taking place outside their jurisdiction. Meanwhile, Constable Clint Edwards with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told the BBB he is conducting an investigation.
The BBB offered the following tips to businesses who find themselves being spoofed by scammers.
Contact Law Enforcement - If you become aware of someone posing as your business online, report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Direct affected customers to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and suggest they file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Notify Customers of the Scam - Let customers know what's going on via social media, email, or other means by which you can reach as many potential victims as possible. Instruct them to ignore or report suspicious emails or texts from people claiming to represent your business, and remind them that you would never solicit sensitive information through insecure channels such as email and text messages.
Provide Resources for Victims - If a customers believes they've been a victim of identify theft because of the scam, direct them to www.identitytheft.gov, where they report the crime and find resources for recovering from identity theft.