American regulators have issued a warning about a car scam originating out of Oklahoma that appears to be targeting Canadians looking for great deals.
The warning is about Ambient Auto Centre, which has been advertising high-end, late model vehicles on several Canadian websites at prices well below normal.
The catch, according to Canadian and American regulators, is that Ambient doesn’t appear to exist much beyond having an elaborate website.
“It’s just a complete scam,” John Cobb, an investigator with the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission, said Wednesday.
“They’re trying to get a victim on the hook to wire them the money for a vehicle.”
The company promises to ship the vehicle, but Cobb said that won’t happen and the buyer would simply be out of any money sent.
The Canadian sites on which Ambient advertises include Autotrader, eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji and Autocatch.
In an interview from Oklahoma City, Cobb said the scam appears to be aimed solely north of the U.S. border, and inquiries about Ambient have come in from across Canada.
“As far as I can tell, they’re just targeting Canadians,” Cobb said.
“I haven’t had anybody report this dealership from anywhere outside Canada.”
The FBI has refused to get involved because there are no known victims of the scam at this point.
Ambient’s website boasts of the “largest selection of used luxury cars” but photographs of vehicles appear to have been ripped off from other car dealers, and customer testimonials appear to be fabricated, regulators said.
A call to the number listed on Ambient’s website went to an answering machine Wednesday and no one returned a voice message seeking comment.
Consumer inquiries about Ambient began coming in to Cobb’s office in mid-October. When he couldn’t find a licensed dealer in Oklahoma by that name, he went to visit the dealership at the listed address.
“It turns out to be an empty field. That was a red flag right there.”
In the following weeks, the number of calls picked up.
Cobb said he was able to track the company’s bank account to Georgia and their website registration to Los Angeles.
“It’s kind of all over the place,” he said.
Terry O’Keefe, with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, warned consumers to take extra precautions when buying a vehicle online and notes they may have no recourse if the great deal turns out to have been too good to be true.
For one thing, O’Keefe said, it’s imperative to confirm the seller’s identity. Call to find out if the dealership is licensed, and, if possible, go see the vehicle or have someone trustworthy do so on your behalf.
“You’ve got to do research, research, research,” O’Keefe said.
Columns Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
- You can unsubscribe at any time. Please Contact Us for details.
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STAR'S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X