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Re: Vintage Auto Registry

Ramesh - I am not familiar with Vintage Auto Registry, perhaps
they are a legimate company.  I would be very suspicious of
any service like this which wants money up front.  Did they,
by any chance, tell you that they would like payment via
electronic debit of your checking account?  If so, report them
AT ONCE to your local District Attorney's office - as this is
almost certainly a scam to get your money.

Consider how much advertisement you could buy, all by yourself,
for $198.  You could probably run a few weeks of advertisements
in major local newspapers -AND- run a photo advt. in _Autoweek_.

As you might suspect, I had dealings with a company which
promised to sell my car for an up-front fee.  I'll append
a note which describes what I've learned:

-------------note follows-------------------------------------------

. Date: Wed, 14 Jul 93 22:17:39 PDT
. From: Alex Miller <amiller@almaden.ibm.com>
. To: rec.autos
. Subject: UNISEARCH ***Scan Alert***

> I recently placed an ad in the local paper for the sale of my car.
> I get an unsolicited call from a company called "Unisearch, Rodier
> Report" located in Miami, FL.  They offered to find a buyer for my
> car from abroad, like Central America, for a small fee of $239.

That's probably how they decided to contact me too.  They
assured me they could sell my car for an amount that was
about $1000 more than I had advertised my car for.

> This included a $10 non-refundable fee, where the remainder would
> be refunded if my car did not sell.  The lady asked me a bunch of
> questions about my car, and finally asked me for a check.  She says,
> "We can now receive checks over the phone, all I need is your account
> number and check number."

Be suspicious of anyplace that wants money up front.
Paying by check "over the phone" means that they will use
your check routing numbers to create an electronic debit
through the banking system.  Theoretically, your bank
would make sure that some agreement is in place with
UniSearch before allowing this transaction to go through.
My local District Attorney office told me that the
electronic funds transfer banking system is overloaded,
and debit transactions like these usually go through

> At this point, I am mighty suspicious and I ask for something in
> writing in the mail.  She then wants to *fax* me a copy of the money
> back guarantee, and says she has no other literature.  I insist that
> she send me info plus the money back guarantee through the mail.  She
> then seems to get a little nervous and says "I have many buyers waiting
> for cars, I *need* to get money from you within the week."  So finally
> she abruptly ends our conversation, and says to call her if I'm still
> interested.

UniSearch said my car would be listed with them almost
immediately.  They were going to send me a package via
Federal Express that I needed to look over, "to verify the
information is correct."  It's significant that accepting
this package requires a signature, which they can use as
"authorization" for the bank draft they submit to get
their money.

> I suspect they avoid using the U.S. mail since they can be prosecuted
> for mail fraud.  I have their phone number: (305)949-1366
> I already called the Better Business Bureau and they had no info on
> the automated line.

Yes - they don't want to mess with the U.S. Mail or a
Credit Card Company.

> Anyone out there have any experiences with these people?  Does anyone
> want to investigate this?

The Miami, Florida District Attorney - Consumer Affairs
office and the F.B.I. want to investigate this.  You can
help by providing information to your local District
Attorney - Consumer Affairs office.  A D.A. Coordinator in
the Santa Cruz, CA office sent me a copy of the following


Guard your checking account number

Ready for a new twist of the old, familiar telemarketing
scams?  The same kind of folks who promise fabulous prizes
if you'll only charge overpriced water filters or vitamins
to your credit cars have now figured out how to draw funds
from your checking account.

Instead of seeking your credit card number, these callers
spin a story to get you to give out your checking account
number, along with the routing numbers at the bottom of
your checks.  With that information, they submit a draft
to your bank.  By the time you discover the debit on your
bank statement, they and your money are long gone.

One telemarketer, says the FBI, called people who had
advertised their cars for sale in newspapers and offered
to market the cars nationwide for $349.  Hesitant
consumers were told they'd be given papers to look over
and were asked for "necessary" information, including the
bank-account data.  Although they were assured that
nothing would be charged to the account unless the papers
were returned, debits occurred anyway.

Insurers, health clubs, mutual funds and others use bank
drafts, when authorized by you in writing, to transfer
money from your account each month.  But dishonest
companies can get away with submitting unauthorized drafts
because the volume of these transactions exceeds the
ability of most banks to check their files for your

If your account is debited with your permission, go to
your bank first for reimbursement.  You bank, in turn ,
will try to collect from the originating bank.  You'll
have little recourse if you agreed to the draft, even if
you never got the item or if you discovered it was
worthless.  Some consumers unwittingly give authorization
by signing seemingly unrelated papers, such as receipts
for Western Union, mailgrams, or credit card applications,
according to the Alliance Against Fraud in Telemarketing.
If you did give written authorization, be sure to revoke
it so that no further debits occur.  You should also try
to pursue your case through the state or local consumer
protection agency.  But fly-by-nighters are notoriously
difficult to catch.


Alex Miller