Student ripped-off in online scam

November 7, 2008 9:14:01 PM PST
When Kira Chapman decided to buy a car, she went online and found an ad on Craig's List for a silver 2003 Toyota Corolla."When I saw it, I thought it was a blessing because it was my favorite car in my favorite color," Chapman said.

Kira emailed the seller in Arizona and got even better news - The car was priced at only $2,640.

"Basically what he told me was he was in the military, he was in the army, that he was getting deployed to Afghanistan in September so the car had to go," said Chapman.

The seller also told Kira he would use a third-party company called Pro Pay for the payment transaction so both he and Kira would be protected.

All he needed was Kira's name and address.

"After I sent him the info, they sent me an invoice and it looked legit... Everything looked legit," Chapman said.

The invoice instructed Kira to wire the money to a Pro Pay agent via Moneygram.

The agent would then hold the payment until she received the merchandise and only then release it to the seller.

Kira sent the money and got a confirmation email, but never got the car.

"I was heartbroken. I started crying at work," said Chapman.

It turns out, Pro Pay dot com is a legitimate company.

But Kira got the invoice from ProPay dot US.. A fraudulent lookalike or copycat website.

Kira had done a lot of checking before buying the vehicle. She'd even asked the seller for the car's VIN and checked its history on Carfax.

But when Kira went back to that vehicle history report, she found other people had posted warnings in the comments section and she was one of many victims.

"One of them told me, 'Beware this is a scam,' The lady said her son got scammed by the same guy," said Chapman. "I was just devastated.. I was so ashamed to tell anybody because I was so excited that I had bought my first car."

"They know how to tug on your heart strings," said PA Attorney General Tom Corbett. "They also know how to tug on your wallet."

Consumer experts also warn that con artists exploit recent events and issues to keep their scams and stories current. Right now bogus pleas from people pretending to be affiliated with the military are rampant.

"If you can't touch that car before you send the money, I think you're making a mistake," Corbett said.

Action News did try to contact the alleged seller Kira dealt with but the email address is no longer valid.

By the way, the legitimate, real ProPay says it is proactively working with local and federal law enforcement to fight this fraud and prosecute the perpetrator.

To make sure you don't become a victim, too remember, before using a third party for any payment transaction, make sure it's legitimate.

Check the email address carefully, and call directly before wiring any money to make sure you have an account and tracking number.


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