by George Dyke…..
On April 6, 2023, Citroënvie member George Klein sent me a link to a website with lots of Citroën SMs for sale and asked if I knew of the place? I clicked on it on the link and looked at all the listings they showed for SMs — 43 to be exact.
What I discovered looking through it is that it’s not a place. It’s an internet bot site that takes ads that have been posted elsewhere (like on Bring a Trailer) and shows them, even if the car has been sold. They also put fake prices on the ad and direct you to some other place. Why do I know this you ask? Because pictures were there of an SM that looked very familiar to me even though the license plate had been blurred in a photo editing app.
Back in September 17, 2020 I had my 1973 SM listed on Bring a Trailer that was bid to $45,000 USD but fortunately it did not sell as it was just under the reserve that BaT had me place on the car: https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1973-citroen-sm-21/. (How Bring a Trailer works and my experience selling a car through them is a whole other story. Here’s a link that pretty much sums up with what I came away with dealing with them: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/bring-a-trailer.html.)
I subsequently sold my SM privately to buyer who was prepared to pay a much higher and appropriate value than what it was bid to on Bring a Trailer. Now here, what I knew by the pictures, was my SM up for sale again.
Of course this felt too good to be true (with no new pictures) that my SM could be bought for $27K, but for the sake of this article and wanting to make sure I could not buy it for well less that half of what it was really worth, I played along and sent and email to the listing that resulted in the following thread. Read on the see how the scam played out and why you should be very careful buying any Citroën online if you have not thoroughly done due diligence:
Sent: Thursday, April 6, 2023 2:22 PM
Subject: Re: Message from 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 5-Speed
Thank you for showing interest in my 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 5-Speed which is up for sale at $27,000. It has never been affected by corrosion, flood, or fire and has no accident history. Functional features with no signs of rust anywhere. Additionally, the title is clean and transferable. Please let me know your location and feel free to ask any questions you may have.
On Thu, Apr 6, 2023 at 5:33 PM gdyke gdyke email@example.com wrote:
I am in Toronto, Canada. Do you have any history or service records for the car? Could you also send me pictures of the engine bay and interior? Where is the car located? I can arrange transportation either to Toronto or perhaps to a local address and then deal with importation to Canada from there.
M. Dickson firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, April 7, 2023 8:58 AM
Subject: Re: Re: Message from 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 5-Speed
I have attached a full set of pictures for you. Please check them. All the service and history records will come with the car.
I’m sorry for this late response but I was out of civilization and I had no internet connection. I am working offshore and I don’t know when I will return. The car is located in Santa Fe, NM because my father lived over there. It is stored inside and ready to go. The car belonged to my father who recently passed away. He was the second owner. The car, the title, two sets of keys, manuals and some service history records is what you will get from the auto broker. I arranged for the sale right before I left, so all set on my end. I propose to close the deal through an auto broker, in the most safe and easiest way possible for both of us. Basically, it’s similar to buying a car locally, the money will be sent to their holding account, and they will keep the money until you receive the car. After the car is delivered, you will have a 7 days inspection period before you decide if you wish to keep it or not. If you are serious about buying the car, I will ship it anywhere with no extra cost. If you want to move forward please contact me back so we can get the ball rolling.
Thank you and stay safe,
M. Dickson. |
And here are the photos – all lifted from my Bring a Trailer listing:
On Fri, Apr 7, 2023 at 11:07 AM gdyke gdyke email@example.com wrote:
OK, what auto broker are you using?
Sent: Friday, April 7, 2023 10:15 AM
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Message from 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 5-Speed
You can call Peter from Woolie Auto Sales & Trucking at +1 (304) 454-5535. If he is not answering just leave him a voicemail and he will get back with you.
The company is Woolie Auto Sales & Trucking. You can read about how they work step by step here: https://woolieautosalestrucking.com/how.php
To be able to start this transaction you need to register on the Woolie Auto Sales & Trucking website: https://woolieautosalestrucking.com/register.php
I’ve been working with them for over 4 years and I can say that I’m 100% satisfied. They are very professional and have very good services. Also, they are Yellow Pages (https://yellowpageslocalbusiness.com/fairview-or/mip/woolie-auto-sales-trucking-823470915?lid=100053109648).
After the registration is complete just let me know and I will start a transaction for us.
Thank you and stay safe,
At this point I decided to Google Woolie Auto Sales & Trucking and the phone number: (304) 454-5535. The website for Woolie Auto Sales & Trucking looked legit, but upon doing a Google Maps search, the address was a house.
OK, maybe he co-ordinated from there and local reviews on the Yellow Pages link on the site seemed to indicate that he was legit transporting cars, though one red flag was that the every review was five stars.
A search of Woolie Auto Sales & Trucking through scam detector also brought up concerns:
At this point, if I was going take this any further, I knew I needed to call:
Recording of the voice mail message:
On Mon, Apr 10, 2023 at 10:13 AM gdyke gdyke firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I called the number for Peter, got voice mail, left a message with my phone number and have not heard back from him. So I don’t know what to do at this point. I really want a nice SM and yours looks very good, but I don’t want to be dealing with an auto broker that won’t even return my call.
Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2023 7:10 AM
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Message from 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 5-Speed
I just contacted them and they said they called you back and you didn’t answer.
What is your direct phone number?
I have a contract with them for this sale.
Ready to buy?
Thank you and stay safe,
M. Dickson. |
—— Original Message ——
Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2023 9:56 AM
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Message from 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 5-Speed
They just tried again. No luck.
Keep me posted.
Thank you and stay safe,
M. Dickson. |
On Tue, Apr 11, 2023 at 10:39 AM gdyke gdyke email@example.com wrote:
That’s odd. I did not see any incoming call that I did not recognize. My phone number is 647-896-3202. Yes, I would like to purchase this SM. Have Peter try again.
Recording of my phone call with Peter:
To: M. Dickson
I just spoke with Peter. What he was describing, paying for the car trusting him that he would deliver it to me didn’t sound quite right. I did a little further digging as the car looks very familiar and I managed to trace one of its previous owners. He gave me the name and contact number for the person he thought was the last owner. I just called that number and spoke with him. His is alive and well and still has the SM in his possession and is very happy with it. The car is not for sale, and most certainly not through you. It would appear that you are running a scam and that you are not the legitimate owner of the SM you are trying to sell. Care to prove me wrong?
And after that last email — crickets!
So now you know how this scam played out. Fortunately I suspected it was a scam and I was savvy enough to play along only to illustrate the process so you can see what happens in such a scenario. Please do not fall for “great deal” offers you may come across online!
Thank you so much. YOU JUST SAVED US FROM BEING SCAMMED! He used the same language and story about his dad dying, 2 keys and a manual etc. That fake transportation website was very well done. I also saw the reviews and some misspelled words and very generic reviews. I also did the research on the address to the same house. I searched the phone number and SAW YOUR POST about a citroen. Made me wonder how Woolie’s number is affiliated with another Citroen.
You just saved us $12000. We had just secured the funds yesterday and was about to “register” on Woolie’s site. Peter never called me back either. Thanks again. I’m so pissed and relieved writing this. Today is April 25, 2023
Hi Paul, Glad to have been of help. Spread the word wherever you can so that scammers like these guys are stopped!
Well done George! That must have given you a warm feeling. Bravo! With Chat GPT now helping them to sound more convincing (how long before they use it for reassuring voice calls as well…), we all have to be extra vigilant. All the best, Richard
Great work George! Now wouldn’t it be great if you could get the local police to go knock on the front door of that house. I would pay money to see the look on that cheat’s face when the police start asking him questions about a car he is “brokering” for the “offshore driller”. (Who doesn’t know when he will even be returning to America). What a no hussle bum that guy is. Scum sack. Thief. Lump.
Thank you George for showing us a little bit of the kind of dirt bag that is out there. Sadly, I am afraid this is the tip of the iceberg. I have had four parties from the same sites try to steal my money. I believe most of the ads for Citroen SMs are frauds. In fact I didn’t know what I was going to do to get one of these wonderful cars until you pointed me in the right direction.
I just want to say thank you again George, because it is really satisfying to know there are honest people out there that are concerned about people getting ripped off.
Perhaps someone needs to introduce him to a my friends at Smith and Wesson.
Great work George! Exciting sleuthing but also frustrating to know that these bastards are out there. One tell-tale sign is the atypical language in their emails. No North-American named Dickson would speak or write that way. Nor sign off as Rig Driller. Buyer beware!
Thank you, George! What an eye-opener! And all the more reason to use a trusted community like Citroenvie to buy or sell cars. Certainly a reminder that not all folks are as good and honest as we would like to think they are.
Same guy just tried to push a GT6+ with the exact same mail about father etc
scum of the earth
Stay on your toes out there. Here is 2 listings I know to be fraudulent. i can share more details if you’d like … just let me know. Interestingly he poses as a Repsol Platform Specialist – similar to a Rig Driller – could be the same guy. Excellent documentation with matching names and address. Extensive records photos, and history – likely scraped from some prior listings elsewhere. His domain registration should be traceable – and he is banking through KBC – which is a large international bank – but they obviously are not doing the appropriate due diligence on their customers.
Anyway, I thought I share these. Stay safe out there!
https://dyler.com/cars/citroen/type-a-for-sale/1956/259301/citroen-type-a-11bl-sedan-saloon-1956-black-for-sale (Walter van Bruggen)
https://dyler.com/cars/citroen/mehari-for-sale/1976/274914/citroen-mehari-4-places-cabriolet-roadster-1976-white-for-sale (Picard Louis)
Great idea Glenn – if we post known fraudulent ads here, with some key words, there is more chance that innocent buyers will come across this page when Googling. George – might we do a “Fraudulent Citroen Ads” page, I wonder…?
A “Fraudulent Citroen Ads” page would be tricky to update, monitor and keep accurate. We do extensive due diligence prior to publicly posting exposes. I don’t know how we would be able to ensure that all posts have gone through the same criteria. Also, these shams seem to be a constantly moving target and may soon be driven by AI. It will be very hard to keep on top of that. The safest way to buy a Citroen, is to go with what list in our Marketplace section.
Same deal – only this time with a Cadillac. Shame – I really wanted the car.
He just tried the exact same scam on me for an El Camino. If he truly is a driller I hope he goes over the side and is never seen again.