A Waco car dealership has been hoodwinked.
Hillside Auto Sales Inc., owned by Tony Hill, fell victim to an imposter scam targeted towards Canadian consumers who are looking to buy luxury vehicles. BBB was contacted via an anonymous tip from a Canadian consumer in regards of the scam. The tipper said he was lured into the scam when he answered an ad selling a 2013 Mercedes Benz on the autotrader.ca website.
According to the tipper and Hill, the con artist posing as Hillside Auto Sales is a man by the name Henry Lopez. Lopez claimed to be the manager at Hillside Auto Sales in Waco, Texas.
To receive the Mercedes-Benz, the tipper was asked to wire Lopez $30,000.
The vehicle never arrived.
After receiving numerous similar complaints, BBB contacted Hill, who said he had also received several calls from Canadian customers.
“There’s a guy that is posing as Hillside Auto Sales, which is my car lot, but he’s got this fictitious Internet site up with all these elaborate cars like, BMWs and Bentleys,” Hill said.
BBB asked Hill if he employs Henry Lopez, and Hill said no one by that name works for Hillside Auto Sales. He added that Hillside Auto Sales does not sell any high-end vehicles.
“If you type my address on the Internet, and do a 360 view, you can see that none of my cars are like what the scammer is claiming to sell,” Hill said.
Lopez created a fake website called "www.hillsideautosalestexas.com". BBB visited the site and called the number on the "Contact Us" page. A man claiming to be Henry Lopez answered the phone.
BBB questioned the man about posing as Hillside Auto Sales Inc., to which the man responded his business was different than Hill's, but at the same location in Waco, Texas. He also told BBB all customers who did not receive their vehicles would receive a full refund of their money. After BBB asked when customers could expect their money back, Lopez hung up the phone.
BBB called the same phone number back repeatedly, but no one answered. The website has since been deleted, as well.
Detective James Head of the Waco Police Department told BBB there is not an open case because the victims are outside the departments jurisdiction.
To avoid phishing, the BBB is offering these tips to business owners:
• Contact law enforcement. If you become aware of a phishing scam impersonating your business, report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Suggest that affected customers forward any phishing emails impersonating your business to the Anti Phishing Working Group, a public-private partnership against cybercrime. Consumers also can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
• Notify your customers of the scam. If you find out someone is impersonating your business, inform your customers as soon as possible through your social media platforms. Warn them to ignore any suspicious emails or texts from fraudsters pretending to be from your company. Remind them your business would never solicit sensitive personal information through insecure channels like email or text messages.
• Provide resources for affected consumers. If consumers believe they may be victims of identity theft because of a phishing scam impersonating your business, direct them to www.identitytheft.gov where they can report and recover from identity theft.