RICHMOND, Va. -- Have you ever seen a deal online that just seems too good to be true? The Better Business Bureau says it probably is.
The organization noted they are seeing a rise in reports of online auction sites scamming consumers out of money. In fact, CBS 6 first told you about one of those sites, Tymacrepo, back in April.
The BBB scam tracker website shows complaints about Tymacrepo saying the website used fake pictures of cars and machinery from other dealers, and they posted a much lower ticket price to get people to bid on the item and then wire them money. That’s what David Frechette of Windsor Locks, Connecticut said happened to him.
"The loss of $500 is upsetting to me, let alone $17,970," Frechette explained.
Frechette said he saw Facebook ads for the company called Tymacrepo, and signed up to bid on a 2017 Caterpillar excavator on March 28. The next day he said he received an email and phone call stating he had won the bid.
So, he wired the $17,970, and Tymacrepo told him the machine would be delivered on April 14 between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Frechette was obviously excited and said the machine was going to be used to help his business, which manufactures and services pump stations for golf course.
But his first red flag came just a day after he'd wired the company the money.
"I saw it being auctioned off the next day after I'd already won the bid," Frechette explained. "The fact of the matter is that every time I would call they were always on the phone, and they would say we'll get back to you later."
After contacting Tymacrepo, the online site then changed its graphic to say “out of stock.” Frechette also received a bill of lading without any serial numbers, which was another red flag.
And when April 14 rolled around, he didn’t receive the machine and wasn’t able to get a hold of anyone at Tymacrepo to ask why it never arrived.
"Of course, I was kind of infuriated," explained Frechette. "And then after that, I reported it to the FBI, the Better Business Bureau and the Windsor Locks Police Department."
In fact, that was just one week before CBS 6's first report on Tymacrepo, where we talked to the Central Virginia BBB, and they they had received reports on their online Scam Tracker. The Tymacrepo website had also disappeared.
While Frechette is unsure if he'll get his money back, he wants others to understand how important it is to do your research to avoid falling victim to these scams.
“Be very well aware of the fact before you even entertain buying anything from anyone that you've researched it," Frechette noted. "Check with the Better Business Bureau, and check with authorities to make sure they are legitimate. Call them, speak to them, don't give them a one time chance, give them a three or four times chance to appear to be right to you. Then go to other people to get recommendations that they've had successful transactions with them.”
The New Jersey Better Business Bureau told Frechette that there is no Tymacrepo, LLC listed in New Jersey or registered in New Jersey.
A detective with the Windsor Locks Police Department said cases like this are extremely difficult to solve because the website has been deleted, and so is the account where the wire transfer was sent.
Frechette has not heard back yet from the FBI, but the agency told CBS 6’s sister station in Indianapolis, which investigated a similar situation, that they investigate cases that are typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range.
"Scamming of people in general, is it's absolutely disgusting," Frechette exclaimed. "Waiting for somebody who's worked very hard for their money, and to basically throw it away on somebody that's scamming them, who probably has plenty of money, is awful. I'm hoping that that we can catch these people and recoup some of the monies that were fleeced from my company."
Since this situation, Frechette has actually purchased another excavator. That one cost him $59,000, which is a more accurate cost for the value, compared to the $18,000 he bid and wired to Tymacrepo.
The BBB warns consumers if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. Also, make sure you check the BBB website to see if the online auction site is accredited before you make a purchase.
Never pay in a way you aren’t familiar with, like wiring money, and search the company’s name online with the word "scam" to see if any other consumers have reported issues before making a purchase.