FBI Oklahoma City
Press Office
(405) 290-3992
May 7, 2018

FBI Oklahoma City Raises Public Awareness to Online Vehicle Fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Oklahoma City Field Office encourages public awareness to the concerns of rising cyber car fraud activity throughout the state of Oklahoma.

The FBI urges the public to be aware of criminal perpetrators that have developed and are utilizing extensive cyber car fraud schemes to commit fraudulent activity throughout the state of Oklahoma. The reported monetary loss in Oklahoma, related to these ads, covering October 2016 through September 2017, was an estimated $962,725. On a national scale, between the months of May 2014 and December 2017 the FBI received 26,967 complaints of fraud totaling an estimated $57, 000,000. Perpetrators are posting fraudulent online classified advertisements offering vehicles for sale that are not currently available nor in their possession. In an effort to make the schemes appear legitimate, criminals will deceptively claim partnership with a reputable company, such as large online retailers.

The fake advertisements will usually include photos matching the description of the vehicle and a phone number or e-mail address to contact the supported seller. Once contact is established, the criminal will often send additional photos along with a discounted price and a message stressing the urgency of the transaction. Common reasons for the urgency will include things like:

  • The seller is moving or will be deployed (common in Oklahoma cyber frauds)
  • The seller has received the vehicle as part of a divorce or lawsuit settlement
  • The vehicle previously belonged to a deceased relative

A few tips for avoiding or recognizing fraudulent online vehicle sales:

  • Ask for identifying vehicle information such as the Vehicle Identification Number, the license plate (if possible), or the identification of the current registered owner.
  • Be cautious of disguised, obscured, or deceptive e-mail domains, and addresses. If unsure, exercise caution and locate the business online or contact them directly.
  • Avoid sellers who show resistance to allowing the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle, or who refuse to meet in person.
  • Ensure the company legitimacy by thoroughly researching the company’s contact information and all shipping and payment polices prior to completing any transactions.

“Cyber related fraud crimes or schemes have the ability to cause victims psychological, emotional, and monetary repercussions. The FBI plays an important role in responding to and investigating matters of cybercrime and cyber exploitation.” Kathryn Peterson, special agent in charge, FBI Oklahoma City Field Office.

Individuals who believe they may have been a victim of, or have knowledge of, an online scam or fraud initiative are encouraged to contact the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office at (405) 290-7770. Victims can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/media/2018/180117.aspx.