The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is warning the public that scammers are once again trying to take advantage of military members, veterans and their families.
This time, scammers are using the name "Exchange Inc." in an attempt to trick unsuspecting types into believing they are dealing with AAFES while buying used vehicles and engines.
In a news release on its website, AAFES says that the scammers are attempting to fool military members into thinking they are working with AAFES, pretending the exchange is brokering the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.
For the record, Steve Boyd, AAFES' loss prevention vice president, said, "For years, scammers have used the exchange's trademarked logo and name without permission to purportedly sell vehicles in the United States. Some military members have sent money, thinking they're dealing with the exchange, only to receive nothing in return."
Navy Exchange, Marine Corps Exchange and Coast Guard Exchange customers should be aware of the scam too, as they are just as likely to be targeted, officials said.
Typically, the scammers have potential buyers use gift cards to pay for the vehicles; these types of payments are untraceable and nonrefundable. Once a military member gives the dealer a few thousand dollars in gift cards, they never see the dealer -- or their money -- again.
Of course, paying for a car with gift cards sounds suspicious to someone who is wise to the ways of the world, but these scammers usually deal with young military members or dependents who may be buying their first car and not sure how major purchases work.
The ripoff artists usually have a good story to go with their sales pitch. Often, they tell the buyer this type of payment is necessary because they are working as a contractor for the exchange, don't have a local bank, or are in a hurry-up permanent change-of station move situation.
This story is nothing new; many of us have seen it happen time and again. However, we were usually half asleep during morning muster when the senior noncommissioned officer or division officer was putting out the news and didn't pay attention. AAFES is attempting to warn anyone who may be approached by the scammers to beware.
While military exchanges have had programs for years that sell cars to members stationed or deployed overseas, they stress that they do not have the authority to sell vehicles or represent private sellers in completing transactions in the continental United States.
The exchange operates solely on military installations and via ShopMyExchange.com. It does not act as a broker in private transactions and does not advertise in classified advertisement or on resale websites.
AAFES urges anyone with questions regarding a questionable seller or payment method to call Exchange Customer Service at 800-527-2345.
Shoppers who believe that they may have been taken advantage of can file a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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