How not to lose $36,500.00 Dollars
I recently just finished working a case where a client/buyer lost $36,500 on an Internet purchase. Here’s a brief synopsis of how this event occurred. The client/buyer was looking to purchase a heavy piece of equipment and found the unit he wanted advertised on the Internet. He contacted the seller and talk to him about the unit and decided he was interested in purchasing it. The client/buyer received the last six numbers of the vehicle identification (VIN) or serial number on the unit. He had those numbers checked and found they did not matched anything and contacted the seller again. The seller explained he’d made a mistake and added one letter to many to the vehicle identification number. The client/buyer then check that number and found nothing that concerned him about the authenticity of the unit. The client/buyer then sends a wire transfer of $36,500 from his bank to a bank in Oklahoma City. He’s assured by the seller the unit will be sent promptly to him since the seller had received the wire transfer. After a significant delay in the delivery of the unit. The client/buyer attempts to contact the seller and cannot contact the seller. The client/buyer then contacts the logistic company that was going to transport the unit to him and they tell him they have no paperwork on such a delivery. It was at this point the client/buyer contacted law enforcement. In addition to contacting law enforcement he contacted his insurance company and the insurance company hired me to conduct an investigation.
Here’s what my investigation found, the unit was sold brand-new in 2003 after 10 years of service. The unit was then sold for cash to a person who flips this kind of heavy equipment. This person then sold the equipment to a person who does not speak English. As far as I could determine this unit actually exist, but is in Mexico.
The name the seller used to identify himself belongs to a person in Oklahoma. I interviewed this person and it appeared to me this person did not have the ability to put this level of a fraud together. I also check the background of this person and he did not have any kind of a record that would indicate his involvement in something like this. It appeared the real person with the name was now a victim to his identity being stolen and used.
All of my reports on this case have been turned over to Homeland Security in the state where the client/buyer lives. As it stands today Homeland Security has issued a subpoena to the bank that received the wire transfer. It is now waiting for the bank to respond to the subpoena and provide Homeland Security with the banking account information. Just one question, how many of you think that my client/buyer is ever going to recover a penny of his money.
This is not the first time I have worked this kind of a fraud. Here’s some advice to anyone who buys anything over the Internet.
- If what you are buying has a vehicle identification number (VIN), or serial number be sure to run the entire vehicle identification number or VIN. The reason for running the entire number is to ensure you have all the identifiers that are assigned to that VIN or serial number at manufacturing. Anything less than a full VIN is in essence, useless. It would also be advisable to run the VIN or serial number along with the model number of the product.
- If you are buying something you cannot go and confirm its existence yourself, here is some advice that will save you money:
- Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of money and hire a private investigator to physically check that what you are buying exist and the person selling it has the authority to sell it. The cost of hiring a private investigator to confirm this information is a great deal cheaper than losing a significant amount of money.
- Have the private investigator photograph the property you are buying and send a copy of the photograph to you. It will be your responsibility to confirm that this is what you are wanting to purchase.
- Have the private investigator send you a confirmed model and serial number or VIN number of whatever you are buying. Again, it will be your responsibility to check and confirm that what you are buying is not stolen. At this point, it might be worthwhile having the private investigator run the model and serial number locally to determine if there’s a problem with it.
- It would even possibly be worth having the private investigator take a photograph of the seller and send it to.
In the course of this investigation, the client/buyer found out that this type of fraud is not unusual. He actually found a heavy equipment dealer who had a semi-truck pull onto his property to pick up a piece of equipment that had been sold over the Internet. The problem was the heavy equipment dealership had never sold the equipment, they had on their lot, but it did not been sold. One of the sales member of the dealership stated he remembered a man came to their lot wanting to buy heavy equipment and took several photos of different equipment. It appeared that whoever took these photos also took photos of the VIN numbers on the equipment and had them for sale on the Internet. Once again had the buyer spent a little bit of money for a private investigator to ensure the unit was being sold by the proper authorities, he would have saved thousands.
I hope this article will reach out to those people who are considering purchasing large ticket items from the Internet to be diligent in ensuring what they are purchasing exist for sale.
Smart Private Investigations will be glad to help buyers and sellers with ensuring their transactions are legitimate.