CONSUMER ALERT!

Consumer Protection Division
(208) 334-2424 or
Toll-free at (800) 432-3545

Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: December 22, 2008

Fraudulent Auto Ads on Autotrader.com

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden warns Idaho consumers to be cautious of an unknown individual selling luxury cars advertised on Autotrader.com.

The Consumer Protection Division has received numerous complaints regarding an unknown individual who advertises used luxury cars, such as Mercedes Benz, Acura, and Infiniti, for sale on Autotrader.com.

The seller currently is using three names -- “Michael Gavagan,” “Dennis Waddell,” and “Rebecca Knepley.” By using a fake eBay account, the perpetrator leads consumers to believe that the transaction is occurring through eBay’s Vehicle Protection Program. However, once he receives the consumer’s money through an electronic wire transfer, he ceases all communication with the consumer and never ships the purchased vehicle.

“Gavagan” claims he resides at or that the vehicle is located at 121 Myrtle Street in Boise, Idaho. That address does not exist. The phone numbers he provides to consumers have eastern Missouri, Oakland, California, and Albany, New York, area codes but usually are not in service. He typically uses the email address michgava@gmail.com, dennwadd@gmail.com, or rebknep@gmail.com. Consumers who obtain vehicle history reports from CarFax indicate that the advertised cars have valid vehicle identification numbers.

“Websites like Autotrader.com and Craigslist provide consumers and sellers with enormous conveniences,” Attorney General Wasden said. “But shop with caution.”

When making purchases on the Internet, consumers should never send money via a wire transfer or a money order. Reputable businesses accept secure methods of payment that provide consumers with the ability to dispute the charge if they do not receive the purchased merchandise. Never send large amounts of money to strangers in order to buy goods that you have not personally inspected.

Consumers should report any losses from this or similar Internet scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov and to their local law enforcement agency. Fraudulent eBay emails should be reported to spoof@ebay.com.

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