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A classic car dealer in Maine sold dozens of people classic vintage cars. The customers got real VINs, bills of sale, and other official paperwork. However, the cars never showed up. Jane Torres, the executive director of the Houlton, Maine, Chamber of Commerce, started getting phone calls about a business called VNKC. The classic car retailer was supposed to be located in the city, but when she looked, she couldn’t find any trace of its existence.

A stored muscle car
Stored classic car | Getty Images

VNKC is posing as a classic car dealer 

According to CarScoops, by the fourth phone call, Torres decided to check the place out for herself. She went to the address listed for VNKC. Needless to say, there was no classic car dealer. Instead, it was a garbage collection site and a tree trimming service. She reportedly checked with both businesses; neither the tree trimmers nor the garbage collectors ever heard of VNKC. 

How many people have been scammed by VNKC?

1987 Chevrolet Blazer on a polished floor
1987 Chevrolet Blazer |

It’s hard to say exactly how many people have gotten caught up in the scam so far. According to CarScoops, customers have been reported to span Oklahoma, California, Florida, and South Carolina. The customers say that as soon as any money exchanged hands, VNKC disappeared. 

The most well-documented case so far is a customer who wishes to remain anonymous. He said he was looking for a 1987 Chevrolet Blazer. Unfortunately, VNKC just happened to “have” one. 

This customer says he had been speaking with the classic car dealer for five weeks before paying a $500 deposit. “I have a copy of the title, the bill of lading, the bill of sale, the VIN,” he said. “It never arrived. After the shipping date, the number I had been calling went dead.”

The weirdest part is that he found the Blazer he tried to buy on another legitimate classic car site, Cars2Search. This site showed the car in Naples, FL. 

How you gonna play someone on a Nissan Figaro? 

Another customer, Diana Kirkpatrick, of Aiken, South Carolina, found a Nissan Figaro on Auto Trader. Just like with the Blazer buyer, the scam artists told her to put some money down in escrow. This would be enough to get the car delivered. If she didn’t like it, she could return it. However, the car never arrived. 

What happens now? 

The Chevy buyer says he is working with the FBI and Oklahoma’s AG. He has also been in touch with Maine’s AG. Although the people behind this scam have not yet been found, the ISP for VNKC LLC’s website was registered with a Lithuanian internet service provider. 

The unfortunate truth is that scams like this are tough to bust. So far, all the authorities have to offer is to use this as a reminder that you must be careful when buying anything online. Keep an eye out for fishy classic cars online.