Victims lose millions in car advertisement scheme

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Victims lost millions in a car advertisement scam (WTVD)

A dealership advertised new cars for as little as $47 per month, but Troubleshooter Diane Wilson explains why consumers need to think twice before taking these deals.

This particular ad was part of a multi-million dollar scam that lured in hundreds of victims. The ad promised new cars for zero down payment and that low monthly price, which sounds like a great deal.

Hundreds of consumers saw the ad or received a mailing from Joe Gibson's dealership and expected a car for $47 per month, but that isn't the deal they received.

"$47 a month, and in a year, your payments will balloon up to $700 or you can come back and just trade it in, and we'll redo the deal," said U.S. Postal Inspector Richard Carter.

If people went back expecting a legitimate explanation, the dealership would say the program no longer exists.

"So you are on the hook for $600 a month," Carter said. "and so people were going into default, their credit was being ruined, and it was a mess. It was a mess."

Another ploy for luring in victims was the direct mailings that looked like checks.

"They would take it into the dealership and it was $10,000 or $500 or what have it and there was never a check, but it was to get them in the door."

Hundreds of complaints flooded the Better Business Bureau about the false advertising.

"When it started, they started coming in one after another, you know something's wrong." Said Vee Daniel with the Better Business Bureau. "You know that maybe somebody on the other side is not doing the right thing."

That's when the Better Business Bureau went to the Postal Inspectors and requested they investigate.

"$18 million in fraud, a hard loss of a little over $8 million, 600 victims," Carter said. "It is absolutely egregious, egregious. I mean, that's the best way to say it, these people had no shame."

Postal Inspectors say before you sign the dotted line, do your research. Carter said if you have any questions, call the Better Business Bureau before signing anything.

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