Sending money to a supposed car dealership in rural Maine turns out to be a scam

It’s easy to get swept up in the car buying process, especially if that car is a classic you’ve been lusting after. A handful of hopeful buyers had their dreams crushed by scammers, as a fraudulent car dealer

took their money but delivered no cars in return. The fake dealer, calling itself VNKC, LLC, reported its location as being in a somewhat remote Maine town, but its owners and at least one victim’s cash, are yet to be found.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the scam dealer listed its address at a location held by Casella Waste Systems in Houlton, Maine. After receiving four complaints, the executive director of the town’s chamber of commerce drove to the address but found no such business at the location. It’s unclear how many people have been scammed, but none appear to be from Maine, at least as far as the state is aware. Autoblog contacted the Maine Department of Consumer Protection, but the office said they had not received any complaints from scammed Mainers.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that people could fall for what sounds like incredibly obvious scams, but this one has a different smell to it. Hopeful buyers received falsified titles, bills of lading, bills of sale, and VINs. One Oklahoma buyer, hoping for a 1987 Chevy Blazer, said they spoke to the dealer for over a month, but the number went dead when their scheduled delivery date passed

.

Some lucky buyers got out before losing money, as one Florida man said he sent $35,000 for a 1970 Buick GSX before calling the local chamber and finding that the company wasn’t real. He was able to stop payment on the check before it was cashed. As if the almost-theft wasn’t enough of a slap in the face, he later saw the same car listed on other classic autos pages.

This is a mysterious story because VKNC seems to be a complete ghost. The company’s ISP is registered in Lithuania, and its website owner has an address in Alexandra, Va., but so far, no one has been arrested. That said, the FBI is on the case, and the Maine attorney general

’s office has been contacted.

If you’re unsure about any part of a remote car deal, the best idea is to call the local chamber or a state consumer protection agency before wiring your life savings to buy an obscure or classic car. While not impossible, it’s unlikely that the remote border town of Houlton would house such a car dealership

. A quick call to the chamber ahead of time could have saved these people tens of thousands of dollars, hours of their lives, and a lot of grief.