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Consumers losing thousands of dollars in online auction scams

People bid on big ticket items like an RV and the purchase never arrives
Consumers losing thousands of dollars in online auction scams
Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 12, 2022

You can buy just about anything online these days and finding deals through auction websites is a strategy some consumers will use to try to get items at a good price, but News5 is learning not every auction website is what it seems and placing a bid on the wrong website could be a costly mistake.

Buying a high priced item like an RV or a boat in an auction is a pretty common approach to try to save some cash, but imagine paying tens of thousands of dollars for one of these and it never arrives.

Terry and Debbra Meade say it all started when they began looking for an RV on the Facebook marketplace. A popup ad took them to an auction website, there they spotted an RV at a price they couldn’t pass up.

”And it had a minimum starting bid of like $23,000 and I thought boy that’s pretty cheap because this is a high end unit. when the bidding was going to come to an end i jumped on board,” said Terry.

“We were all excited, we thought we got this,” said Debbra.

They say they wired $28,000 and the RV never showed up.

“$28,000 that’s a sizable chunk of money,” said Terry.

“That’s like part of our retirement,” said Debbra.

We found the Meades aren’t alone. Several consumers say they’ve contacted law enforcement about the auction website, including the FBI. The Better Business Bureau recently issued an alert about online auction sites.

”We are starting to see an increase in it especially as people are going online to look for some of these big ticket items and used vehicles now with this kind of vehicle shortage across the country people are using auctions as a way to obtain some of these big ticket and high cost items,“ said Adah Rodriguez of the BBB of Southern Colorado.

According to the BBB, catching the people behind these scams is almost impossible. Oftentimes, they're overseas and they vanish as soon as people start asking questions.

Before you bid on anything, think about taking these steps to protect yourself and your money: 

  • Make sure you research the company running the auction and read the reviews.
  • Find out what additional fees or shipping costs you may be responsible for. 
  • Be very careful about wiring money or using another payment service that you're not familiar with.
  • Utilize reverse image searches and see where else the item you’re interested in is being advertised.

”If we would’ve called that dealer before we sent the money we would still have $28,000 in our pocket,” said Terry.

If you come across any website that you aren’t sure about, you can always reach out to us at News5 Investigates and we will take a look.

If you identify a scam website it’s important to report it.

Here are some places to contact:
https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker

https://www.stopfraudcolorado.gov/

https://www.ftc.gov/

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