The old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it is,” unfortunately, is apparently ringing true again in the case of the scam website www.rv-wheels.com.
Police say the scam artists are thought to be operating out of Nigeria, and even though some would-be RV buyers lost thousands of dollars in deposit money on non-existent RVs, there is little that can be done because the alleged perpetrators are outside of the reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies, according to investigators with the Newton County (Missouri) Police Department.
Officers from the southwest Missouri county became involved because www.rv-wheels.com directed hopeful RV buyers to the site of a former RV park south of Joplin, Missouri, according to Detective Fred Engberg. The campground went out of business years ago although some “old FEMA trailers” are rented to occupants on the property, Engberg told Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Longtime RVDA member dealer Wheelen RV Center in Joplin has been fielding questions from consumers and notified RVDA about the scam. Marty Wheelen said people from as far away as Georgia traveled to Joplin to pick-up the motorhome they intended to buy from the operators of the website, only to find the motorhome was not there..
Similar off-shore scams have directed prospective RV buyers to other locations around the country to pick-up RVs that did not exist, Engberg added.
RVDA called the phone number listed on the www.rv-wheels.com website but there was no answer. However, a few minutes later, the call was returned and the person who called back said it would be possible to view the motorhome RVDA inquired about either in Joplin or at another location specified by the potential buyer.
“Please call (before traveling to Joplin) because other people are interested in that unit and it might be sold before you come out,” the caller added.
Although there’s virtually no chance the people who lost deposit money will be able to recover, Engberg, the Missouri police officer, said putting the word out about the internet scam is a good idea to prevent others from being victimized.
Where there are sales, there are scam artists.