Over the past year or so, scams involving phony websites have become more prevalent. It is very easy to create a website from anywhere in the world. The scam artists create the phony business website, add a few fake "positive reviews" and use a fake street address in the United States - or even co-opt the actual street address of an unsuspecting legitimate business - and then sit back and wait for the payments to roll in. The unsuspecting customer, believing there is a bricks-and-mortar business associated with the website, submits an online payment to complete the transaction. The customer is out the money, and because the fake business only exists online, the scam artists can't be found.
The consumer protection division has received recent reports from out of state victims of fake website scams using North Dakota street addresses, apparently taking advantage of the good reputation North Dakota businesses generally enjoy. Common phony website scams claim to be selling used vehicles, seized vehicles, or they claim to ship/transport vehicles.
- Before doing business online with an unfamiliar company, check with the regulatory authorities in the state where the business is supposedly located. Not all business websites are legitimate, and there is no internet "police force."