2018-08-08 / News

BBB warns of nationwide vehicle transport scam

The Better Business Bureau is alerting consumers nationwide of a fake transporting business that has cost victims thousands of dollars and earned itself an F rating. Since May 2018, BBB has received multiple Scam Tracker reports and complaints from consumers across the country who have collectively lost more than $30,000 to scammers operating under the name Elk Horn Express Transport.

BBB determined that the alleged business is using the name of a company that once operated in Paul, Idaho. According to the Idaho Secretary of State and Department of Transportation, the company is no longer in business. However, consumers report they have been instructed to register on their website to purchase and/or transport vehicles they found online. Once they have registered, they are required to wire payments for the vehicle and/or transportation without having the opportunity for an inspection.

One consumer told BBB he thought he was purchasing a classic car from a private seller. During the transaction, he received an email with instructions on payment. He was informed the funds would remain in an escrow account until the vehicle was delivered. He never heard back from the seller and lost $11,600 in the process.

In the most common car shipping scam, the consumer performs an internet search for auto shipping companies and clicks on a link. They find what looks like the website for a legitimate shipping company. The consumer asks for a quote for shipping a car and receives what they think is a reasonable bargain and instructions for payment. The consumer sends the payment and then waits for a truck that never arrives.

As a consumer, it is important to know how to choose a reputable and reliable auto transport company. Doing so will help you to avoid scams that prey on those shipping their vehicles long distances.

BBB offers the following tips:

• Avoid doing business with any company that wants your payment sent through a wire transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Legitimate companies should accept credit cards or checks. Paying by credit card is preferred because it gives added fraud protection.

• Carefully examine the company's website. Look for poor grammar and typographical errors. Websites with multiple spelling mistakes or grammatical errors were probably hastily put up by a fraudulent company and many originate from outside of the US.

• Check their license. Auto shipping companies are regulated by the United States Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and cannot operate without a valid Motor Carrier Number (MC Number). Legitimate companies will provide consumers with this number through their websites or representatives, while frauds will either hide their number or pass off a fake or expired number. Investigate the company's credentials through the Better Business Bureau or the FMCSA's Safety and Fitness Electronic Records website.

Remember, these transport scams are becoming more common, so a little research beforehand can save a lot of headaches later.

Kelvin Collins is President/ CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor.

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