New Yorker loses thousands to scammer impersonating Waupun automotive business

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WAUPUN — A man in New York is out thousands of dollars after being scammed by an organization pretending to be a business in Waupun.

The victim, who wished to remain anonymous for the purpose of this paper, lost a total of $22,000 in an attempt to buy a musclecar.

According to him, he saw an ad on Facebook which claimed to sell “muscle cars for cheap” while impersonating Frens Automotive in Waupun. After clicking the link in the post, he was prompted to give his personal information including email and phone number, and was in contact with the scammers who sent him fabricated invoices for the cars.

They had requested he wire the money through Wells Fargo in Waupun, but after sending the money the victim realized the name on the account was different from the legitimate business, and before the transaction could be reversed the account was emptied into an off-shore account owned by the scammers.

According to the victim, the men he had called had Middle Eastern or Indian accents and the phone number area code was from Virginia—likely a spoofed caller ID. He also said that there was a lot of background noise like a call center when talking over the phone.

“They were very slick and wouldn’t discuss over email,” the victim told WPN. “After the wire transfer I wouldn’t be able to get in contact with the supposed delivery driver, and every time I would ask they would push me off and say it would be coming in a few days. Of course, I eventually realized that it would never come.”

The victim has contacted his own local law enforcement along with the Waupun Police Department to report the scam, and has been trying to work with Wells Fargo management on what can be done.

Unfortunately this is not the first they’ve heard of this scam pretending to be Frens Automotive.

At about the time of the victim’s scam, Levi Frens made a post to the real Frens Automotive Facebook page warning potential victims of the scamming group that was impersonating them. This particular scam occurred on June 10, only three days after the real Frens Automotive made their warning post.

“It has come to our attention that there are scammers impersonating Frens Automotive LLC online claiming our name and former address,” Levi Frens said in the post. “They have a website where they post stock images of classic cars—once you engage with the page they will ask for down payment in the form of online payments.”

The post included some screenshots of the impersonating website, which has since been closed. It used the former address of Frens Automotive at 25 E Main St.—the former Shell Station which is now Midnight Run Repair. The real Frens Automotive currently operates out of Bentz Automotive at 501 E Main St.

“As a warning and general knowledge for you all—we will NEVER ask for online payment. Please only ever interact with THIS [Facebook] page and our true business phone number of 920-948-2165.”

This type of scam is not uncommon, with similar posts on Facebook claiming to be other automotive businesses operated all around the country—including one that the victim spotted after the original scam using the exact same pictures.

This is only one scamming method common on the modern internet, and the most effective are the ones you don’t question whether it’s legitimate or not. Scammers intentionally manipulate their victims into a sense of urgency so they don’t have time to think about it or ask someone else if it’s legitimate.

This is a method called social engineering where scammers direct the victims’ line of thought, and discourage them from taking time to think and double check the account or website.

In this case the victim was given only one day to give payment in the invoice, and was told that if he didn’t pay immediately they would sell it to someone else.

This same method is used by other scams including fake computer viruses, fake debt collectors, fake car warranties, and many more. All they need is to get you on the line and scare you into giving your personal information or wiring money.

Always be vigilant of offers that seem to be too good to be true and when things just don’t sound right. If you aren’t sure, ask a family member or a friend—a legitimate business won’t discourage you from asking for a second opinion.