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Online Vehicle Scams

Online fraudsters often gain trust or sympathy by pretending to be military members about to be deployed. These scammers typically use a military rank or title; will only communicate by email; will offer a used vehicle at far below market value; promise delivery and a refund policy; and request payment by wire transfer or gift cards. They advertise on a variety channels including Facebook, eBay and websites for used vehicles. After the transaction is complete, the criminal ignores all follow-up calls, text messages, or e-mails from the buyer or may demand additional payments. In the end, the vehicle is not delivered and the buyer is never able to recuperate their losses.

The Public Affairs Office at F. E. Warren AFB (and other bases) routinely receives messages asking to verify individuals at F. E. Warren allegedly selling vehicles. Fictitious sellers often claim to be sergeants, recently widowed, preparing to leave with a medical team, in training for a deployment, or recently transferred to Wyoming. Sellers who could not be matched in the Air Force's worldwide directory of Active Duty, Reserve, Air National Guard and civilian employees include, but are not limited to:

  • SGT Sarah Biazar
  • SGT Katherine Galston
  • SGT Sydney Gibbon
  • SGT Jessica Hanson
  • SGT Betty Monroe
  • SGT Maria Peterson
  • SGT Sylvia Schumacher
  • SGT Marsha Schuman
  • SGT Angela Sholes
  • SGT Lola Richardson
  • SGT Sarah Rutherford
  • SGT Beverly Velez
  • Summer Dawn
  • Laura Richardson
  • Daisy Jensen
  • Lisa Nixon
  • Lynn Pfeiffer
  • Emily Sanders
     

Below is an actual message from "Sarah Biazar," a reoccurring scam profile, to a potential buyer in November 2019:

Right now I'm in a military base F E Warren AFB, Wyoming. We are training, getting ready for leaving the country. The delivery process will be managed by me. I think I can have it there at your home address within 2 working days. It will come with a clear title and reg. I am a member of the eBay buyer protection program and using this service you will get a 5 days testing period after delivery. During that 5 days testing period I will not be getting any money. I need to know if you are interested so I can ask eBay to send you the details on this deal. If interested just email with your legal name (your right full name 'cause it will appear on the papers), full postal address where you want the car delivered and your cell phone # where you can be reached so we can get the ball rolling.

 

Here is an actual message from "Sylvia Schumacher," another reoccurring scam identity, to a potential buyer in May 2020: 

My name is Sylvia, I'm emailing you about 2004 Jeep Rubicon with an gas engine, automatic transmission and only 74k miles. Never had or need any paint/body work done, garaged keep always, without any mechanical problems, tires and wheels are in great shape as well, electric is working perfectly. The engine on gas, runs very good and the automatic transmission shifts perfectly. Has clean and clear title in my name and there are no liens or loans on it. This car has been used by my husband who died 4 months ago. The price was reduced to $1,200 because I'm in a hurry to find a buyer. I need to sell it before the end of the month, when I will be leaving on military duty with my medical team out of the country for a year and do not want to store it. Hate to sell it but its not worth keeping insurance and paying storage fees for a year. Also, my daughter have another car so there's no use on keeping it. If you are interested reply to email. SGT SYLVIA SCHUMACHER

 

SGT Sarah Biazar, SGT Sylvia Schumacher, SGT Beverly Velez, and SGT Sarah Rutherford are the most common identities our office has received complaints about since 2018.

A Tucson television station investigated in October 2019 and provided a warning to its viewers:
https://kvoa.com/news/n4t-investigators/2019/10/07/n4t-investigators-bbb-warning-about-new-twist-on-old-scam/

More information about this type of scam can be found at:
https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/buying-a-car-online-read-this-first


The transferred sergeant scam

The seller's introductory email describes the vehicle being sold and includes this sentence: "The only reason for selling is that I really don't use it anymore as I do not have time and it deserves a better home, I'm a Sergeant in the Air Force and I was promoted and transferred and I'm very busy with my deployment." Numerous examples can be found online following this template, selling everything from cars to tractors to RTVs

The FBI offers these tips for avoiding fraudulent online vehicle sales:

- If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
- Use the Internet to research the advertised item and the seller’s name, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and other unique identifiers.
- Use the Internet to research the company’s contact information and its shipping and payment policies before completing a transaction. Ensure the legitimacy of the contact information and that the company accepts the requested payment option.
- Avoid sellers who refuse to meet in person, or who refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
- Ask for the vehicle’s VIN, license plate (if possible), and the name of the individual to whom the car is currently registered.
- Criminals take extra effort to disguise themselves and may have recognizable words in their e-mail name or domain. If you are suspicious or unsure about an e-mail that claims to be from a legitimate business, locate the business online and contact them directly.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of this scam, please file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov

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