Buying cars online is easy, but does it expose consumers to scammers? – WSB-TV Channel 2

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ATLANTA – Buying a car online has never been easier. But do the companies that tout hassle-free shopping make it easier for crooks to rip you off?

For more than a year, a Forsyth County woman has been fighting to quash a car sale that happened in a few keystrokes.

In May 2020, Corey Bennett took a Carvana credit check to get a loan for a 2018 Ford Mustang.

To prove his identity, the buyer sent Carvana a selfie with his Georgian driver’s license. The man picked up his new car from a Carvana store in Atlanta, signed a car title application, and drove off.

When the real Corey Bennett received a car label for a Ford Mustang in his mailbox, she figured it was a mistake that would be easy to correct.

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She had never logged into the Carvana website and didn’t even buy a car.

After a trip to the tag office and several phone calls with Carvana, she learned that identity thieves had purchased the Mustang in her name.

“It was my address, my name, everything, so that was the scariest part, I think,” Bennett said.

She said the driver’s license for the selfie Carvana used to verify the thief’s identity was almost identical to her own, except for the male ‘M’ and the photo.

“I don’t know what a selfie with a fake driver’s license would prove to anyone to be someone’s ID. It’s just shocking to me.

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Bennett doesn’t know where the car is, but there’s still a $ 30,000 loan in his name a year and a half later. She said her pleas for help from Carvana went unanswered.

“There was no solution. There was no resolution. They never found the person who did that, ”Bennett said.

Channel 2 Action News wrote several times to Carvana requesting an interview about Bennett’s situation and the company’s security measures, with no response.

Fraud specialist Barry Banister is investigating thefts like these for traditional car dealerships across Georgia. He said car thieves using fake IDs are one of the main forms of fraud he sees, but employees at traditional car dealerships are now trained to look for warning signs when selling. of a car in person.

They look for people who buy all the extras and signatures that don’t match.

“If they rush through the process, all they want to do is sell the car, send someone over and drop it off, hand it over to someone else, it’s done. , it’s done, ”Banister said.

In Bennett’s case, the signature on the Georgia driver’s license is nothing like the signature on the car title application.

Banister said it was harder to spot a scammer when shopping online. “It can take 90 days before anyone realizes it,” he said.

Last month, Chevrolet’s Jim Ellis called Chamblee police when Michael Childrey allegedly attempted to use a fake Florida ID to purchase a Corvette. Police came to arrest him on the spot after employees noticed red flags.

But the Mustang bought by the man posing as Bennett has never been found.

The man has never been identified and the Forsyth Sheriff’s Office says their investigation has stalled as Carvana never reported the car theft.

Carvana wrote a letter to the Georgia Department of Driver Services requesting that Bennett be released from any liability for the stolen Mustang because it was the victim of identity theft. But the loan of over $ 30,000 for the car is still open on his credit report.

Although she is not criticized for the non-payment, she is concerned that the loan will affect her ability to buy a car or a house in the future.

“With my credit being frozen, it’s a constant fear. Not being able to move forward with the things I want to do with myself, ”Bennett said. “I think it’s really up to these big companies and corporations to do their part.”

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