TORONTO, Dec. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - OMVIC, the regulator of motor vehicle
sales in Ontario, and the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts
Commission (UMVPC), are warning car buyers of yet another online scam
specifically targeting Canadians.
According to UMVPC Investigator John Cobb, Sprint Luxury Auto, is
advertising on the Canadian sites of AutoTrader, Wheels, E-bay,
Craigslist and Kijiji: their ads offer high-end late model vehicles at
prices that are often 'too good to be true'. Cobb states this phony
dealer's website claims to be based in Oklahoma City, however the
business does not actually exist: "They are not licensed and they have
no physical presence. Their advertised address is actually a call
center for Sprint Wireless. This is a blatant attempt to use Sprint's
name and location to gain credibility. Make no mistake,
SprintLuxuryAuto.com is a scam".
Terry O'Keefe, OMVIC Manager of Communications, says this latest fraud
is very similar to one that appeared a few weeks ago. That scam
involved Ambient Auto Center, also with a supposed address in Oklahoma.
"Ambient's address turned out to be a cornfield" explained O'Keefe.
"Unfortunately these are both sophisticated operations. The websites
are very professional and contain extensive inventory and convincing
customer testimonials". "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".
According to Cobb within hours of OMVIC's December 5th news release, warning Canadians about Ambient, the company shut down
its website and phones, but it hasn't taken them long to resurface as
Sprint. "Just like cockroaches, when you shine a light on them they
scurry away, waiting for a chance to resurface".
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" explains O'Keefe. "The best way to deal with these types of
scams is for consumers to be cautious and educated. Recognize that if
something is priced below market value, it should be viewed as a
warning, not an opportunity".
OMVIC strongly cautions Ontarians considering buying vehicles remotely,
whether privately, or from a dealer in another state or province.
Ontarians 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.
The first lesson buyers can learn from Sprint and Ambient is not to buy
without confirming the seller and vehicle actually exist and that the
vehicle is in the seller's name. "Buying remotely is a huge gamble"
says O'Keefe. "Buyers should travel to see the car and verify the
facts. If that's not possible, hire an appraiser to do it - but don't
wire money or give a credit card number without doing all your homework". Cobb agrees. "Not only will the victims of these scams
lose their money, I'm certain the information they give these scam
artists will be used later for attempted identity theft. 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 celebrates 25 years of providing advanced
consumer protection to Ontarians.
SOURCE: Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council - OMVIC
For further information:
Manager of Communications, Media Relations and Education
Investigator - UMVPC