(FOX 9) - Anytime a deal appears to be too good to be true, it most likely is.
The Better Business Bureau identified a number of online shipping businesses that were all fake and a man from Las Vegas says his mom almost fell for the scheme.
It’s an online scheme that has taken some consumers for a ride. Ads listed on websites such as Craigslist and Autotrader were offering bargain basement prices on everything from vehicles to jet skis in Minnesota and North Dakota.
“You go on there, you find a vehicle and it’s cheap, so you can’t resist it,” said Bess Ellenson, of the Better Business Bureau in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Then comes the hard sell.
“The person selling it tells you some type of sad story like their husband died, they’re being deployed, or they’re going through a divorce and this vehicle reminds them of this loved one and they just need it out of their life,” Ellenson added.
The seller will then direct the buyer to a third party shipping company that doesn't actually exist. After collecting the cash, Ellenson says the shipping company disappears.
“After I saw their website, that’s when I was like, ‘OK, there’s something weird here,’” said Chris Calderon.
Earlier this year Chris Calderon’s mother responded to an ad selling a 2015 Honda Odyssey for about $8,000 dollars.
After contacting the seller, they received an emailed response from a woman claiming to be from St. Cloud.
“Her husband had a heart attack and that’s why they have to use this company and she has to get rid of this vehicle,” Calderon said.
According the Better Business Bureau more than 20 incidents have been reported so far this year.
Calderon and his mother didn't fall victim, but others have been duped out of thousands of dollars.
“Big red flag,” Ellenson said. “If anyone wants you to wire money to them, you don’t know the person, it’s some type of bigger purchase like this, there’s good chance that it’s a scam and you’re going to lose your money.”
“If you’re going to buy a vehicle, do it the old fashioned way,” Calderon added. “Check it out first.”
Many of the shipping websites had fake addresses in places like Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Fargo.
The BBB encourages consumers to research transportation companies before sending or wiring money.