Imagine you are looking for a car lease takeover and searching for a used car online on a popular website such as Quitalease or You have found the right car with an attractive offer. The ad has car’s pictures aplenty and a link to the vehicle history report which includes all the sundry information about the health of the car. You can see an email address for contact but no phone number. So you decide to write an email and the seller replies that he is relocating to another country as he is a pilot and switching to another job. 

He makes it look easy for you and explains if you want the car you can wire the payment to an escrow company which will act as the trustee until you receive the car. He provides you with a link of that company’s website with the option that if you decide not to buy it during the deal, you will be refunded. But if all this is so smooth, what could go wrong? 

This scenario is just one example of countless online car-shopping frauds that happened online this year. With some variation, more than 29,000 cases of online car scams were reported since 2014. By December 2017, more than $54 million was looted online from potential car buyers. That’s all according to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. 

The scammers would make fake car ads by copying car lease deals on QuitaLease or actual car listings. The sellers are also fake. They are not pilots or whatever they represent to be. They are just used as stories to make them sound genuine. The escrow sites are also clones of the original sites or brands such as that are original but do not offer such services. 

Many buyers are not aware they have been scammed until they contact the original number of that site to ask for their delivery date. About one-third of the people who call to ask for their orders have already paid. 

Most of the criminals that use these scams have sound technical skills to clone ads and create fake but functional-looking webpages. Shoppers today are more comfortable buying online, even if they are buying something as important as a car. If someone is looking for a car lease takeover, it may not seem risky for some buyers. This faith in the legitimacy of the online deals is one that the scammers exploit. 

The FBI and popular sites facing these scams offer some tips to online users to avoid becoming a victim of online car-fraud. Here they are:

1. Visit authorized sites: Don’t look for random deals online. Visit an online platform which is reliable and has genuine sellers. Quitalease is one such option for a car lease takeover. These websites follow a reliable vetting process to list ads on them. They have all the details about the user. The car lease deals on QuitaLease are genuine and you will find the prices in line with the market evaluations. Better use a reliable platform for buying a new car than losing your money for nothing.

2. Check the car’s value: Most of the fraud car deals are designed to look monetarily attractive. If you have found the car you like then it is better to cross check the car's real value with an online car valuation tool. You can use Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides for this. If the price of the car is comparatively too low to these sites, then it is a scam. 

3. Talk on the phone: Avoid those ads in which there are no phone contact details. You may come across some sellers who do not want to talk to you over the phone, avoid them as well. Those car owners that do not want to meet in person or let you physically inspect the vehicle must be bypassed at all costs. 

4. Beware of the escrow trap: Be cautious if a seller is pressing on using a particular online escrow company. It could be an attempt to trap your money through a fraudulent site.

5. Double check the site URL: If you carefully look at the site’s URL you can figure out if it’s genuine or not.  The scammers usually use the domain or website name that is similar to the original website. The website's name and its domain typically appear at the end of the URL. A fake Quitalease domain would look something like

6. Pay at a licensed escrow company: Make sure the escrow company you use is properly licensed. Different states have a different number of licensed companies operating in them.

7. Don’t reveal personal information: Do not give your personal or financial information such as credit card number or bank account details. The information of this sensitive nature should only be revealed after verification of the online escrow company you are using.

8. Avoid any other form of payment: If the seller asks you to pay through Western Union or use any other form of payment like gift cards, iTunes cards, then avoid making any deal at all.

Contact your bank immediately if you have unfortunately become a victim of online car-buying fraud. Discuss with your bank if it can reverse the fund transfer. And last but not the least, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.