BBB Warns of Truck Dealer Claiming to be Based out of Helena, MT
Better Business Bureau warns of an online used truck and RV dealership, Willis Auto Center, claiming to have been in Helena, MT since 1994. Consumers alerted BBB of this business when they attempted to find a used truck or RV on Craigslist. Consumers who inquired about a vehicle for sale each received the same response:
“Thank you for contacting Willis Auto Center .The unit you are inquiring for is still available for sale. Currently ,it's located in Helena ,MT ,USA at our dealership.
We are a truck dealership and got this unit recently from a client that traded it in for a new class 8 truck. The trailer is not under Montana registration and that is the reason why we listed it for sale all over US. Shipping all over US is included in the listed price. It's spotless. No accidents. Non smoker! Clean title. Warranty is transferable.”
Consumers responding to Willis Auto Center’s ads were directed to provide personal information about themselves and pressured to start the transaction immediately by sending cash or check or use an online escrow service.
BBB’s investigator called the business to verify the address provided on their website. The representative attempted to avoid providing a valid address, eventually stating “2nd” and then hung up the phone. A Google search revealed no additional information about the business, highly unusual for a business having been around since '94.
BBB’s investigator was unable to find a Montana Secretary of State registration, a requirement of any business operating in the state of Montana.
BBB warns this may be a scam. BBB has seen an increase of scammers creating listings on sites like Craigslist, using generic profile pictures, photos of inventory from other legitimate sellers, and either non existent or address of state and federal government agencies in Montana. Prices listed on these websites, if listed, are significantly lower than other places, enticing consumers to act quickly without first investigating the business' legitimacy.
A few red flags to look out for when buying vehicles online:
The price sounds too good to be true. If the selling price is significantly lower than comparable offers, use extreme caution before deciding to send a down payment.
The seller is difficult to get a hold of over the phone. A common theme with fake vehicle listings is that the seller is out of the country for military leave or a mission trip, making it difficult to speak to the person directly.
You’re asked to wire funds. Be wary of any seller pressuring you to wire transfer any fees or deposits for your purchase. Once a wire transfer has been picked up, it is nearly impossible to recover your funds.
BBB encourages all consumers to use caution when buying through online posting sites like Craigslist, as it’s difficult to research the reputation of the sellers. Never send money to someone you do not feel comfortable with.
If you have questions about this scam, contact your BBB at 509-455-4200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.