BBB issues warning about a supposed Austin-based used car website
Original Luxury Autos promises used cars at good prices. But, BBB has received several complaints from consumers in Canada that the website took up-front payment for vehicles it never delivered.
The website lists an address on Cross Park Drive in Austin, Texas. While there is an office building at that address, the manager of the property told BBB that Original Luxury Autos is not a tenant.
Brent Manning, a resident of Mannitoba, Canada, found that out first hand. He was skeptical of the deal he saw on AutoTrader.ca, and asked a friend of his to fly down to Austin to see the vehicle in person.
“He hopped in a cab and drove to the address listed on the website,” Manning said. “There’s an office there, but that business wasn’t listed in that office.”
Manning added that the sales manager, a man going by the name of Frank, asked for 50 percent of the car’s total purchase price up-front, plus $700 to export it to Canada.
Once Manning discovered that the address was a fake, he said Frank stopped answering the phone. Luckily, Manning had not paid Original Luxury Autos any money.
Christopher Taylor, a resident of British Columbia, said he lost approximately $28,000 to the used car website. He said he was also impressed with the price listed on AutoTrader.ca.
However, he did not have the resources to send someone to Austin. He did some research on the internet, instead.
“I did a pile of research, just trying to find out who they are,” he said. “And then they had a couple of reviews online that I thought were legitimate.”
In addition, Taylor said, the sales manager seemed knowledgeable about the import process and other details. Everything seemed legitimate.
Looking back, he added, there were a few red flags. For one, he could not find the company’s Texas Department of Transportation license to sell vehicles.
None the less, Taylor said he wired half of the used car’s purchase price to Original Luxury Autos. The company confirmed that the car was on its way, but there was a hitch at the border.
Original Luxury Autos told Taylor that in order to export a car from the United States to Canada, it had to be paid for in-full. Taylor called the agency listed in the email to confirm, and had second thoughts about the purchase.
“I emailed Frank back and said I am a little uncomfortable paying for the full vehicle up-front,” Taylor said.
Frank offered to refund the money, which Taylor said quelled his fears. He wired the second half of the car’s purchase price. Taylor said that was the last he heard from Frank or anyone from Original Luxury Autos.
“I can’t seem to get any response from them, email or voice,” he said.
If you’re looking to buy a car online, BBB recommends you watch for the following red flags:
- Sellers who want to move the transaction from one platform to another (for example, from Craigslist to eBay Motors).
- Sellers who claim that a buyer protection program offered by a major Internet company covers an auto transaction conducted outside that company’s site.
- Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and request payments via wire transfer payment systems.
- Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
- Transactions in which the seller and vehicle are in different locations. Criminals often claim to have been transferred for work reasons, deployed by the military, or moved because of a family circumstance, and could not take the vehicle with them.
- Vehicles advertised at well below their market value. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If think you have been victimized by an internet car scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, and BBB. In Canada, you can report Internet fraud or other scams by contacting the Canadian Anti‑Fraud Call Centre.