TORONTO, Jan. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - OMVIC, the regulator of motor vehicle
sales in Ontario, is warning car buyers of yet another online scam
According to Carey Smith, OMVIC Director of Investigations, Husen
Original Autos advertises on online vehicle marketplaces such as
AutoTrader.ca, Wheels.ca, E-bay.ca, Craigslist.ca and Kijiji.ca,
offering high-end late model vehicles at prices that are often "too
good to be true". Smith explains this phony dealer's website claims to
be based in Phoenix AZ, however the business does not actually exist:
"According to Arizona authorities Husen is not licensed and they have
no physical presence. Their advertised address is actually a retired
fire hall, now used as a community service building". Husen Original
Autos appears to be the latest incarnation of Ambient Auto Center and
Sprint Luxury Auto. Both were phony dealerships supposedly based in
Oklahoma. According to Smith, "Husen's website looks nearly identical
to Ambient's and Sprint's and their methods of operation appear to be
Terry O'Keefe, OMVIC Manager of Communications, says these frauds
specifically target Canadians and are very sophisticated. "The websites
are very professional and contain extensive inventory and convincing
customer testimonials; they've even created recommendations on referral
websites and forums. We know of five victims of the Ambient scam so
far: those victims lost nearly $200,000. We expect there are many more
victims yet to come forward". Unfortunately because of the
multi-jurisdictional and international nature of these scams,
investigations and prosecutions are difficult and expensive. "The
scammers know this - it's why they are targeting Canadians" states
OMVIC strongly cautions Ontarians considering buying vehicles remotely,
whether privately or from a dealer in another state or province, and
offers the following tips:
Don't do it - consider that the savings are probably not worth the
gamble, especially in light of the rapid proliferation of these scams.
Beware of a price that is considerably lower than the average market
price. If a price seems too good to be true it should be seen as a
warning, not an opportunity.
Travel to see the vehicle - don't rely on pictures or a convincing
website. If a buyer can't travel to see the vehicle, hire an appraiser
or mechanic to inspect the vehicle. They can ensure the vehicle
actually exists and the seller is who they claim to be.
Check with state or provincial regulators/authorities to ensure dealers
Purchase a vehicle history report for the vehicle - don't simply rely on
a report provided by the seller: they can be altered.
Don't wire money or provide a credit card without first doing all homework.
O'Keefe wants Ontarians to know "they are only protected by Ontario's
consumer protection laws and only have access to the Motor Vehicle
Dealers Compensation Fund when they buy from an Ontario-registered
dealer. If consumers buy privately or outside the province, and
something goes wrong, they are basically on their own. It's simply not
worth the risk."
The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) administers and
enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by
regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's
8,000 dealerships and 24,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line
for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions. OMVIC is
also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.
About Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund:
The Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund is fully funded by Ontario's
registered motor vehicle dealers and provides compensation to consumers
who have a valid claim against an Ontario-registered dealer. Qualifying
consumers may be eligible to receive up to $45,000 for each valid claim
to the Compensation Fund. Since its inception on July 1, 1986, the
Compensation Fund has paid out over $5 million to consumers. In 2011,
the Compensation Fund celebrated 25 years of providing advanced
consumer protection to Ontarians.
SOURCE: Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council - OMVIC
For further information:
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