Scams happen year round but become particularly prevalent during the holiday season.  Scammers know that consumers are rushed and likely don’t have the time to be as careful as they would like to be.  These thieves also know that consumers are doing more and more shopping online.

All those reasons make a recent alert from the FBI even more timely.  At its website, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3) has just posted an alert about which consumers need to be aware.  The alert reports that from June 2009 to June 2014, the FBI’s ic3 got over 6800 complaints from consumers who thought they were buying “big ticket” items from reputable sellers.  The items included cars, recreational vehicles, boats and other outdoor equipment.  Some of these items were listed at serious discounts.

What was the scam?  As the alert outlines, the ads were listed using fake information about payment methods; sometimes consumers were instructed to use a fake Ebay account. Consumers were given the name, address and account number for the scammers bank to which consumers could wire their payments.

What really happened?  No goods, lost money and no recourse.  The FBI’s alert reports that consumers lost over $20 million to these scams in the five year period.

The FBI’s alert is worth reading.  It provides more details about this particular scam as well as the FBI’s tips for avoiding these types of scams.  The alert can be found at: http://www.ic3.gov; the alert number is I-111414-PSA; dated November 14th and  titled: “Criminals Post Fraudulent Online Advertisements for Automobiles, Recreational Vehicles, Boats, and Other Outdoor Equipment Leading to Financial Losses in Excess of $20 Million”.