The FBI is warning consumers nationwide of a surge in complaints regarding phony online car transactions.
Scott Sessions is a classic car guy.
"From Detroit, Michigan. Blue collar guy. Grew up around cars," said Sessions.
His grandpa had classic cars and when he saw a classified listing for this replica of a 66 Shelby Cobra he had to have it. Just ask his fiancé.
"It was basically a body over top of a nice engine that he liked. I don’t know," said Andrea Deniset.
She knows Scott and this was his dream car. The car was listed on the website hotclassicdeals.com.
Sessions contacted the seller.
The seller wanted to use a third party to conduct the business deal and deliver the car.
Elkhorn Express Transport Company was that third party. They have a website, and you can just dial the number and there’s a phone tree to get to various members of the staff.
The couple wired $17,000 to Elkhorn Express’ bank account. They received a confirmation, even a tracking map showing the car was headed to Texas.
The tracking map stopped moving after a few days and calls to Elkhorn Express were ignored.
"He (Sessions) was like 'what’s the matter' and then I said to him and it sort of just all came out and (I) said 'what if all of this is a scam,'" said Deniset.
They didn’t sleep well that night, wound up going online and researching the company more and found other people who bought cars and never got them.
One woman wrote she bought a 1955 Nash Metro. She said she wired the money to Elkhorn Express and never got her classic car.
As it all unraveled, it became clear how big of an operation this was.
The transport company with the fancy website and call tree system appears fake.
It’s listed address is a big open field with no registered business license.
There are other actual reputable transportation companies out there with similar names to “Elkhorn Express” but none of them are connected to this specific website.
The seller exists but whoever is behind this scheme was simply using his name and a phony email address.
The website where the ad was taken out for the car has many online complaints from others who say the cars they bought never showed up.
Every person connected to the deal has disappeared along with Scott and Andrea’s $17,000.
The FBI is also warning buyers about online car scams with more then 30,000 complaints and $54,000,000 stolen as thieves start taking car shoppers for a ride.
All cars should have a VIN number, even replicas, but there are reports these can be fake too.
So when buying a car out of state, invest the money to go and see it.
A $300 plane ticket gives you a chance to inspect the car, meet the seller, and know what you’re getting into.