The website of an auto dealer alleging to be in Dundalk has been shut down.
Quality Car Guys is accused of cheating consumers out of thousands of dollars. The business was reportedly accepting payments for vehicles advertised online then never delivering the car to the customer.
Consumers reported losing more than $65,000 to Quality Car Guys.
The business was also not at its address listed online. When ABC2 visited the Dundalk warehouse where the business claimed to be operating, there were no cars for sale and no sign of the business.
Aliyu Aruna in Texas is one of the alleged victims of the scheme. He says he lost $40,000 after trying to purchase two vehicles from the online auto dealer.
“It didn't seem fishy because I spoke to them, texted, they had a website,” said Aruna.
And the website was still working even after Aruna reported the company to multiple law enforcement and consumer protection agencies. He also reported it to the Better Business Bureau, who launched its own investigation.
“People are going to a website, they are acquiring a car online, they are paying a substantial amount forward towards that car and the car's never delivered,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Greater Maryland.
Barnett and her team documented everything and sent the information along with an ABC2 News report to the software host. The website was shut down on Tuesday.
“Once it was concluded it was illegitimate, the website was suspended,” said Jerica Johnson an investigations coordinator with the BBB serving Greater Maryland.
The move was a win for Johnson, who helped expose the scheme. The website was a valuable tool used by the scammers – the software host specializes in web design for used auto dealers.
“That is why the site does look completely legitimate,” Johnson said. “It provides VIN numbers, and CARFAX, and history, so it does appear to be a legitimate site.”
However, the company is far from legitimate. Even the employee photo on their LinkedIn page is a fake. The image can also be found on Shutterstock with the description “confident male manager.”
“They are good. They've been doing this for a long time, they know what they are doing. They are specialized in this thing, so they know,” Aruna said.
And they're likely to keep up the charade. The latest development may be just a speed bump in their pursuit of deceit.
“Once the heat is applied, the pressure is on. You simply take down your website, change your name, pop up as another type of dealer,” Barnett said.
Software hosts and domain providers don’t necessarily have a vetting process, which is why it's up to the consumer to be extra thorough.
If you're considering buying a used car online, dealers in Maryland must be licensed. The Motor Vehicle Administration had no record of Quality Car Guys.
Some other tips to avoid being duped include googling the business name with the words "complaint,” "scam," or "reviews." Also, research the business address online and look for any concerning comments or posts from followers on their social media pages.