On Your Side: Police say scammer stole Lebanon, Mo., business name; Out-of-state customers lose thousands

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Lebanon, Mo. Get the right business owner on your side, so no one fails.

Here’s how the scam works. Scammers take advantage of small businesses that don’t have a website or Facebook page. Fraudsters copy business information from state records, and now you’re dealing with an imposter.

Susie Williams is the owner of Missouri Wholesalers. It is the name for an LLC on government business records. Now, she has a website with her business name and LLC information. She says that she has nothing to do with this.

“I’m very upset that someone stole something from me, and it’s my business name,” Williams said.

She sells group cars to dealers, not individuals. The website claims to have classic cars for sale.

“I don’t have any of those cars to sell, or I never will,” she said.

Her parking lot is empty. She called the number on the website and was told they were selling a car.

On Your Side reporter Ashley Reynolds called the number. The man claimed to be Michael and was selling cars. When Reynolds told him, “The police will tell us you’re not who you are,” the man on the line didn’t respond. They did not answer her other questions.

Lebanese police traced the IP address on the website to a foreign scam. So far, a customer in Illinois has lost $30,000. A customer in New York lost more than $50,000. That customer took it to your side for a rare Corvette at a bargain price. Customers made the money thinking they got a great deal on a regular ride.

“I feel sorry for these people who spend money,” Williams said. “This worries me more than my business name. I feel like I can’t do anything. I feel like my hands are tied.”

Customers say they saw the cars on Facebook Marketplace. Consumer advocates always say to do your homework.

“Check customer contact information. Check to make sure all links are working. Pay attention to all the details and do your research,” says Pamela Hernandez with the Better Business Bureau.

The red flags include the wrong phone number and wiring fees before you see what you’re buying in person.

Williams filed a police report. She contacted the Missouri Attorney General, the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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