CarBuyingTips.com warns RV and boat buyers of fraudulent site VentureAutoConsignment.com using Craigslist, eBay
Published June 22, 2017
Internet scam lures recreational vehicle buyers with RVs priced well below market, dupes them into wiring funds
[Updated April 23, 2018]
Resurrected up under the name autozabiconsignment.com
This fraudulent VentureAutoConsignment.com web site that we alerted consumers about last year was shut down and has now re-appeared under a crazy new name called Auto Zabi Consignment (autozabiconsignment.com). The names are getting more unbelievable over time, because scammers of fraud sites are running out of quality domain names that keep getting shut down.
One way you can tell the new site is a fraud is to look at their fake mailing address 601 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California, 90017. Really? A tall sky scraper and you don’t at least produce a suite number or floor number? No legitimate company lists their address like that.
As the photo below shows, you can see that the new site has the same design as the old site, all they did was change the name and logo, because if you Google the old fraud site name: VentureAutoConsignment you'll see fraud reports from our site and others. They also changed the address to some sky scraper in LA, with a phone number that never connects to a human, just a low quality robot voice often used by scammers stating the hours of operation, no matter what time of day you call.
[Original Article] Another escrow fraud site has popped up, posing as a consignment business, and attempting to act as an escrow site (a phony escrow in fact), and doing all this in violation of the law. You might be searching the Internet on Craigslist, eBay and even kijiji in Canada for a used boat or used RV and find one that seems priced way below market.
We have been warning consumers about this type of escrow fraud for 15 years and now you'll be shocked just how much effort these scammers have gone to in order to make it appear you are dealing with an established business, including toll free numbers, fake positive 5-star on-line reviews and recommendations and more, but you are about to learn how to see through their smoke screens.
How this RV sales fraud works
Step inside the vortex of crime with us and watch and learn. The scammers have created an elaborate multifaceted scam that involves first setting up a fake vehicle consignment web site called VentureAutoConsignment.com which was still up and running at press time. Then they post fake RV listings on-line in the used vehicle classifieds web sites such as Craigslist and eBay.
With their advertised used RV selling prices so low, they sucker you right in as you are drawn in by the baseless pipe dream that you are about to score your RV for thousands less than other sellers are asking. Then you contact the "seller" to buy the used RV at a huge discount to the current market values.
The scammers also scraped and copied a page off our site CarBuyingTips.com and pasted one of our pages on a server in India owned by WebWerx and created a fake testimonial to their fraudulent Venture Auto Consignment site. They did this to trick you into thinking that it was a positive recommendation from our known and trusted site, known world wide as experts in on-line fraud.
We never recommended VentureAutoConsignment.com it is a fraud
Let us be perfectly clear on this: We did not ever recommend VentureAutoConsignment.com nor will we we ever recommend them, and in fact we are warning all consumers to steer clear of any deal where that web site is even mentioned. You should steer clear of any other type of escrow, wiring of funds, or Western Union, etc. Especially on Craigslist, it is for local use only, and you should never do any Craigslist deal that is not cash and carry and transacted face to face.
We condemn VentureAutoConsignment.com as a fraud. See the screen shot below which shows our official site on the left side, and a an illegal copy of our web page showing how the scammers made a phony recommendation appearing to be from our known and trusted CarBuyingTips.com. The scammers tried in vain with their fraud site to trick you into thinking we recommended them. But you are smarter than they are.
Next the scammers place a phony ad for a recreation vehicle camper on Craigslist
Below you can see the actual Craigslist ad for this scam, it was a 2012 Forest River Sandpiper 365SAQ 5th wheel slide out camper recreational vehicle. Looks like a normal listing right? Do you see the problem with it? The asking price is $19,900 which is way below market price for this used RV, and as of press time most dealers were asking almost $40,000 for a 2012 Sandpiper loaded to the hilt with similar options like this RV was.
Any time a seller on Craigslist or eBay tells you to use an escrow service, flag the listing as prohibited and it will be investigated and removed. In fact if you try to go right now to the Dallas Craigslist and find this RV camper listing shown above, you'll see a message that it was already flagged for removal. At press time this same fake RV listing above is still on-line in the Pittsburgh Craigslist, and other markets too.
Also demand to see the used vehicle in person, and if you get any excuse that it is locked up or unavailable to view it, then it is a fraud. After all, how can they sell it to you if it is locked up and they can't get to it? Don't tell me you're going to fall for the lie that their shipper is taking care of everything! Real shippers don't ever handle vehicle payments either; it would be illegal since they are not registered escrows.
This is how all the used vehicle scammers on all the used car classifieds web sites scam you, by reeling you in with a price that is suspiciously low, then your guard is down because all you focus on from here going forward is that low selling price, ignoring all the red flags along the way. They can often sell the same listing to several different victims, reeling in hundreds of thousand of dollars with one ad and very little work.
Now the scammer lowers the boom on you
The scammers now sit back and wait like a Venus fly trap for you to contact them. If you contact the "seller" and several emails go back and forth, you are then entered into a transaction on the fraud site VentureAutoConsignment.com or whatever domain name these bozo fraudsters are using this month.
Once you login to your transaction on the phony escrow site, you'll find wiring instructions there to a TD Bank account which you will find out the hard way later is under the scammer's control and you'll never see your money or an RV once you wire the money off to them. There is no way to get it back once it has been sent unless you can cancel the wire transfer the same day through your bank.
Sometimes the scammers will use other banks, and we have seen Bank of America and Wells Fargo used many times over the years. A checking account that can receive wired funds is all that the scammers need.
How to tell VentureAutoConsignment.com is a fraud site
I will grant them this much, those scammers sure did create a very convincing fraud site, but it won't convince you or me because we are going to show you how to pick their story apart. They might be good at creating a secure server web site with all the well-polished touches and high power business flashiness, but that can be done in a few hours, and every lie they tell you tell leaves a trail.
One way to tell these guys are a fraud is if you just look at that long stupid domain name they chose. Scammers have been doing this lucrative fraud since the 1990s because there is a sucker born every minute but they have used up thousands of domain names in the process that have been shut down over the last 15 years, so all the shorter believable names are dead and unavailable, and they have resorted to these long stupid dot com names.
Just by seeing the domain name alone when we were alerted to investigate this scam, we knew it was a fraud before doing any other checks. Also any ".com" domain name that has a dash in the name is a fraud too for this same reason. List for me how many legit business web sites you know with a dash in the name, I'm sure it is a very short list.
Venture Auto Consignment lists a fake mailing address on their web site
Look at the screen shot below from their Contact Us page. Our screenshot shows they list a fake address of 515 South Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. What, no suite number? Any large business in a 20+ story tall office building is surely going to list their suite number, floor number, etc. Otherwise how would they get mail?
Scammers do this all the time. They usually use the address of pizza parlors, flower shops, churches, courthouses and other random businesses. They think if they list the address of an office building they will fool you. But as soon as soon as you call their bluff and vet out their address with a Google search, their story falls apart further.
I confirmed with the building landlord and management company that there was no business there by this name, and no company at all in the building with this type of business. So now we confirmed they are at least lying about the address. See how everything you do leaves a trail? In this case, it is a trail to nowhere; their cloak is starting to unravel.
Fake toll free number leaves you on hold permanently, chat app never works
The scammers went to great lengths to try to create the impression of a large used vehicle consignment company with a toll free number. But don't be fooled, it cost almost nothing to set this all up and put a voicemail box that leaves you on hold permanently.
We called their bogus phone number listed on their web site (855) 258-4729 during business hours and it left us on hold for 2 hours, with a computerized voice telling you to please hang on the line. We also found several lesser known review and untrusted web sites where fake positive reviews were left for this Venture Auto Consignment site, all of them phony 5-star reviews.
With a real business at least the phone or chat window would connect you to a person eventually. Heck even when I call the IRS, or my bank, or Social Security I still get in touch with a human eventually. Not so with this fraud. Their chat function is never working either. Now their whole house of cards is starting to come down.
You will never talk to a human being there, because there is no one, and there is no company and there is no corporate office, and the chat feature on their web site is never active. So they wasted their time creating this smoke and mirrors to trick you, but you are too smart to fall for this crime.
Phony copyright date on their web site
When we checked at press time, VentureAutoConsignment.com listed a false copyright statement at the bottom of their web site saying "Copyright 2009-2017 Venture Autoconsignment & Sales, LLC." This is a lie and attempt to trick you into thinking their web site has been in business for years. But we know that this domain name was just registered on May 4, 2017. May the fourth be with you! See the whois lookup of this fake web site below:
The screen shot above clearly proves that this is not an established major brand like they lied to you with their fake copyright statement. Like I said, they can always try to lie and trick you, but we can see through their lies.
Their About Us page is a fake, with made up names and photos
What an impressive About Us page with all these fancy photos of their directors and officers. There is just one problem. It is a fake and even their story of how they got started is stolen and copied from other web sites. It looks so convincing and gives you such a warm and fuzzy feeling that there is this high powered management team running a legitimate operation.
But a simple Google search of each of these manager names listed there returns nothing with these names with any photos that look like them. We searched their names on LinkedIn and found nothing. No tweets, no Facebook accounts, just nothing.
Are you kidding me? Almost every white collar working person I know is on LinkedIn. And certainly anyone in upper management is on LinkedIn with their profile. And not one of these dozen people appears on LinkedIn?
Let me tell you how the real white collar corporate world works. If this was a legit company, and it is not, at least a few of these alleged managers and CEOs would have LinkedIn or other social media accounts listing their job function at this company. But there is nothing at all.
Fraudulent data in TD Bank wiring instructions
If you do get so far as to start a transaction with these clowns, they will send you to their transaction page which has bank wiring instructions for you to send your funds to purchase the used vehicle and start the escrow, which if you have been paying attention up to now, you should already know there is no real escrow.
Look at the screen shot below of their transaction page and this is where many of these scammers drop the ball in their zeal to try to set up smoke and mirrors to lead you off the trail. First of all, they are trying to make you think they are a business based in CA, so let's be stupid here and list a bank in Miami to wire the money to. What idiot would fall for this scam after encountering this huge misstep on the scammers' part? You would be surprised how many consumers have their brains on autopilot.
Why is an escrow company in CA using TD Bank in Miami, with beneficiary address in Ft Lauderdale?
We have seen his before where bank accounts used in Miami are often a redirect or bounce account, that automatically bounces any money it receives to a Cayman Islands bank account, outside the authority of the FBI or Secret Service, and these banks do not cooperate with U.S. investigators.
Many other times in the past we have uncovered that the owner of the bank account receiving the funds is some idiot who answered an ad on Career Builder, or on Indeed or Zip Recruiter to be an "account manager". When they receive your funds wired into their bank account, they are instructed to Western Union the cash to Russia or Europe.
Yes unemployed people looking for a job can be that gullible. These people are so easily fooled they don't realize they are being used as patsies in an international money laundering scheme. When it all hits the fan they are the folks who get in trouble.
You can also poke gaping holes into the TD Bank wiring instructions. They list a bank wiring beneficiary address of 201 East Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. If all you do is Google the address and bring it up in Google Maps, you'll see there is no 201 East Las Olas, only previous attempts to rent out suites in a building that was never built there. In fact if you try to figure where the address might be, it lands in the middle of the brick courtyard plaza in front of Broward College downtown on East Las Olas in Ft. Lauderdale.
TD Bank in Miami has no idea their bank account is committing international wire fraud
Look closely at the wiring instructions screenshot. With all the smoke and mirrors and fake addresses and names listed on the wiring instructions, it is all a joke, because the only data that has to be correct here is the routing number and the account number. You could put 1600 Pennsylvania Ave as the address instead of the phony Las Olas address they put there and Donald Trump Corp. as the beneficiary and it won't matter, the money will still be wired to the scammers.
Wiring money to a bank account is just way too open to fraud and at the end of the day, no matter what red herrings the scammers have dropped for you along the way, they still need to receive the money you send them. So in the wiring instructions, you will see the standard 9-digit bank routing number and the standard 12-digit account number.
The 9-digit Routing number used in this scam is 067014822 and the account number is 4337338811. There may also be other bank accounts used by the scammers depending on who is in charge of which fraudulent RV listing.
The phony address on Las Olas we mentioned above should be a major red flag for you. Also the scammers spelled Collins Avenue wrong in the wiring instructions for TD Bank in the screen shot above, using only one "L" in the name, so these types of discrepancies are common with these scammers who are in a rush to build up their fraud and they always overlook tiny details.
Usually all the bank needs to complete the wiring is that account number listed there. The poor fools at TD Bank at 500 Collins Ave in Miami have no idea one of their accounts is being used in international money laundering.
At least do a Google search of the routing and bank account number
We typically find numerous red flags for consumers along the way in these scams where if they would just simply Google a name, or a phone number, or an address, or a bank account number, they might see other people on-line or previous victims talking about them being a fraud. So in this case, just Google search the TD Bank routing number 067014822 and you'll see it does indeed go to TD Bank.
Then Google the account number 4337338811 and you'll hopefully see mentions of the fraud by other victims who wired money. Since the scammers often use multiple bank accounts to receive money, there may not always be search results for the account number you enter, because the scam can be too new to generate a history of results on Google yet.
But in some cases it could save a victim in the middle of being scammed if they took 5 seconds out of their day to perform this simple search. Once a fraudulent bank account is discovered and shut down by the bank, the gig is up and the scammers have to start using the next bank account under their control. It is a perpetual game of Whack a Mole.
Lastly the beneficiary is identified as Kasteneda Corp. and not the escrow company, and this is all for an RV supposedly located in Dallas, with a fake escrow company in CA, with fake wiring instructions to a bank in Miami with a beneficiary in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
We don't even know if Kasteneda is a real company, but it does not matter, all the bank needs is the routing and bank account number to complete the wire transfer. It is all part of the name changing and smoke screens to throw you off the trail that leads to the scammers.
This is why Craigslist always warns you to deal only locally with items listed on Craigslist and only in person. Any type of escrow, Bank Wiring Western Union, etc., is forbidden on Craigslist. They explicitly warn you stating "Deal locally, face-to-face. Follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts." Read the Craigslist page on Avoiding Scams on their site.
There are thousands of Craigslist victims all over the world who are scammed every day on all sorts of fraud listings because they are too foolish to listen to the most basic common sense advice that Craigslist gives them.
Common traits of fake vehicle consignment, car shipping and escrow sites
- Domain name registered only weeks ago, not years ago
- Domain name is very long or has dashes in the name
- You were told to use it by the seller or other person in your transaction
- Free shipping on a vehicle surely lures you in
- 7-Day Money Back Guarantee return period designed to let your guard down
- Google their mailing address and it is fake or belongs to someone else
- Google search their phone number, there are no search results (not established company)
- No license to operate in their state and no way to verify it on the state database
- No Better Business Bureau rating, or it has an F-Rating
- You'll never talk to a human when you call their phone number; chat never works
- False copyright statement claiming many years on web site that is only 2 weeks old
- Stolen logos from eTrust and BBB accredited logos that don't link to real BBB
Now there is just that little matter of the scammers copying our web site
You recall earlier that we showed the screen shot of how the scammers scraped our content from our web site to create a phony web page out of it. Normally you just send a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice to the web host and the web host shuts down the offending web site.
In this case the web host is WebWerx who at press time has not responded positively yet to our request and has given us only empty promises of asking for more time in a chat session so far. Everything is wrong with this web hosting company, the abuse email address given in the whois lookup of Web Werx just gives you an auto reply while other supplied abuse email addresses in the whois result in bounced emails. This violates their own terms of service which states that web sites hosted on their servers are not allowed to break any laws or spam.
Also some of their WebWerx email addresses to contact them on their web site have bounced, so if a web hosting company can't handle their own security and maintain their own chats and email addresses, that is a sign of problems. They are also in violation of ICANN rules because the web site we complained about has false contact us information in the WHOIS lookup, which is grounds for having their domain name terminated. After the 9-11 attacks, ICANN really started clamping down on this.
Next we tried the nearly useless chat function on the WebWerx web site, and posed our question to them but got no response for nearly a half hour, then someone finally responded and said they would have it taken care of next day and still no results yet over a week later. See screen shot below, which shows our futile conversation to convince Webwerx to shut down the fraud.
Plus it is very difficult to get in touch with anyone. After trying several other attempted chat sessions, their chat seems to be down every time we try. You can see why these frauds proliferate so easily. Numerous chances along the way to shut down these frauds were missed because unethical web hosts refuse to shut down criminal activity on their servers which violates their own phony terms of service.
Web hosting companies are often just enablers of the fraud. Many victims would never have lost money if the idiot web hosting companies would just shut down the fraud sites when they are alerted to the fraud or copyright theft. All we can do at this point is educate you on how to avoid these scams. Once the scammers see they are not getting fruit from their labor, maybe they will choose a different line of work.
- Fake Vehicle Escrow Service Scam
- ABC Miami Channel 10 Airs CarBuyingTips.com story on Craigslist Fraud
- 10 Ways You Can Tell Billings-United is a Fake Vehicle Escrow Scam
- Guide To Avoiding Internet Fraud
- Fake used car buyers, trick sellers into running VIN# reports to prove car is OK
- How to Avoid fake VIN History Reports and Choose The Right Report
Have you encountered any transactions telling you to use the fraud site Venture Auto Consignment profiled in this article? Have you been told to use another escrow type site or free shipper? Let us know in the comments below.
About The Author: Jeff Ostroff
A lifelong consumer advocate with over 20 years of unparalleled expertise, Jeff is the Founder, CEO and Editor-In-Chief of CarBuyingTips.com. As chief consumer advocate, he oversees a team of experts who cover all aspects of buying and selling new and used cars including leasing and financing.
For decades, Jeff has been the recognized authority on vehicle purchasing, sought out often by the media for his decades of experience and commentary, for live call-in business radio talk shows and is cited often by the press for his expertise in savvy car shopping methods and preventing consumer scams and online fraud. Jeff has been quoted in: CNN, MSNBC, Forbes, New York Times, Consumer Reports, Wall Street Journal and many more.