If you are stateside and buying a car from the Exchange .... stop. You're about to become the victim of a scam.
That's because the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) doesn't sell vehicles stateside. They are only authorized to sell vehicles on overseas military bases.
Still, someone is betting that you don't know that -- and illegally using the exchange logo with the name "Exchange Inc." to advertise in automobile magazines and newspapers, AAFES officials said.
The scammers pretend to be a go-between for private parties selling used vehicles, saying they will ship the buyer their purchase. They take the buyer's money for a used car, motorcycle or boat and then ... disappear.
"This has been an issue in the past, and now it’s beginning to surface again where someone is using the Exchange's trademarked logo and name without permission to purportedly handle vehicles transactions in the United States on behalf of private sellers," said Rick Koloski, the Exchange's loss prevention vice president. "Unfortunately, some have sent money only to receive nothing in return.”
Like Koloski said, this isn't the first time these scammers have worked this idea. In both 2013 and 2014 scammers used the same "Exchange Inc." game.
Stopping scams like this one is difficult, AAFES officials said, because the scammers are often located outside the U.S. Still, if you suspect a scam you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, they said.
How do you know if an AAFES ad or service is legitimate? To start with, AAFES is only ever located on actual military bases -- not in the community. And you'll never see an ad in a civilian outlet like a metropolitan newspaper or auto magazine, officials said. They do advertise, but only in publications whose audiences are primarily military members.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user promich under the Creative Commons license.