MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Cleveland, Ohio resident who thought she was buying a car from a Mid-South auto dealership is likely one of many victims of a website that stole the identity of a Memphis business.
"More than my heart sank. I broke into tears," victim Amanda Hanson said. "I wish I could go back in time and just stop myself."
Through Americautosales.com, Hanson put down $2,200 on a used Chevy that she thought she was buying from America Auto Sales in Memphis. But the website was a fraud, stealing money that customers paid in good faith as a down payment.
"It's a case of business identity theft," the Better Business Bureau's Randy Hutchison said on June 14.
Action News 5 first told you about this website scam on June 14. After that story aired, AmericAutoSales shut down. However, the blog Internet Scammers has been tracking the case, and uncovered the same outfit, running the same scam, using at least 40 other website addresses.
Internet Scammers warns consumers against making instantaneous payments using cash or debit cards online, because those transactions can often not be reversed.
Victims should file a local police report, and a formal complaint with IC3.gov. Experts say victims should also be vocal, like Amanda Hanson.
"I know the chances of getting the money back are very, very slim," Hanson said. "But my biggest hope is that these individuals are caught, and they're brought to justice."
If you fall victim, keep a copy of your local police report. Often these losses can be claimed for income tax purposes.