North Texas police departments are seeing an increase in vehicle thefts and fraudulent sales, leaving victims out thousands of dollars. A family from El Paso fell victim to this scheme when they purchased a gray 2019 GMC pickup truck for $34,000 cash. The family drove nine hours to meet the seller after connecting through Facebook, but shortly after the transaction, they began to have doubts.
The seller provided what appeared to be legitimate paperwork, but North Texas police noted that this is becoming increasingly common. White Settlement Police Chief Christopher Cook worked with the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force to investigate the case. Cook ran a check on the temporary license plate tag and found that the number belonged to a trailer, immediately raising a red flag.
Upon entering the vehicle identification number into the Texas Department of Insurance database, there was no record of the purchased truck, alerting police that this was potentially a fraudulent sale. Cook noted that the theft of pick-up trucks has increased in Texas in recent years, with many being stolen from one part of the state and sold in another.
Unfortunately, the Ruiz family’s gray 2019 GMC pickup truck was in fact, stolen out of Houston in February 2023. The thief had priced the truck as a 2019 model to avoid suspicion, and the Ruiz family is now out over $30,000 with little hope of recovering their funds.
“We’re sad and annoyed by how they robbed us – like it was nothing,” said the younger Ruiz, who had accompanied his father on the long journey from El Paso. He hopes that sharing their story will warn others of this scam and prevent them from falling victim to a similar scheme.
The rise in fraudulent automobile sales is concerning for North Texas police departments, particularly as these cases often go unreported. Buyers are urged to use caution when purchasing high-value items online, especially when dealing with a stranger or when something appears too good to be true.