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Maine attorney general's office warns of vehicle sale scam

The Office of the Maine Attorney General is warning the public about an active online scam that involves the fraudulent sale of used or antique vehicles.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Office of the Maine Attorney General is warning members of the public about an active online scam that involves the fraudulent sale of used or antique vehicles.

Scammers are reportedly posing online as the names of Maine businesses, as well as individuals associated with those businesses, to advertise vehicles that are up for sale, a news release from the attorney general's office said Thursday.

Using the fraudulent advertisements, they then scam prospective buyers into sending thousands of dollars for vehicles they will never actually receive, according to the release.

In addition to posing as Maine businesses, the scammers are also registering fraudulent website domains under the names of the Maine businesses and then using email addresses associated with the fraudulent domains, the release stated.

The attorney general's office noted the scammers do not appear to be physically based in the state of Maine, but they are using phone numbers with the 207 area code.

"The scammers are also using documents that appear legitimate, including Bills of Sale with details about the vehicles and VIN numbers," the release said Thursday. "The scammers are using accounts at major U.S. banks to receive funds."

There have been reports from consumers about wiring thousands of dollars, thinking they are buying vehicles from a Maine business, according to the release.

"After the money has been received, the scammers may continue to communicate about the delivery of the vehicle. Once consumers express concern about the transaction, the scammers may provide excuses that sound plausible, and they may even provide tracking information or other details about the delivery. However, eventually the scammers will cease communicating and the vehicle will never arrive," the release said.

The attorney general's office said Thursday it does not believe any Maine business or individual is associated with this active online scam.

The office is encouraging anyone who believes they may be a victim of this same to submit a consumer complaint available online here. You may also file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) here.

"If you have concerns about a similar transaction that you are currently considering and that appears to involve a business based in Maine, please contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Maine Attorney General’s office immediately at 207-626-8849," the release said.

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