Chief of Public Safety Kile Bergren and the Fergus Falls Police Department have been aware for several weeks of an online fraud employing the name of two former Fergus Falls transportation companies.
They also know fraud does not actually have anything to do with the city of Fergus Falls.
“We don’t have any active cases because we don’t have any victims from here,” Bergren said.
That does not mean there have not been victims. The Fergus Falls Police Department and the Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce have both been contacted by people seeking information. They have been asking about Fergus Transportation and TNT Transportation. To add legitimacy to their scam, the fraudsters tell buyers their purchases will be transported to their location by one trucking firm or the other.
“They just use their names,” said Bergren.
According to the Fergus Falls police, Fergus Transportation was sold a couple of years ago to an Alexandria man and renamed. TNT Transportation has been out of business for a number of years.
The scam is as simple as it is crooked. A website is set up advertising a car for sale. As part of the deal, the scammers offer to transport the car to the buyer’s address.
“As soon as they get the money they shut the website down,” a Fergus Falls police sergeant said.
A North Carolina man looking into the fraud through the Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce wrote about a couple of buyers that were bilked out of $20,000 each by the fraudsters.
Bergren also knows of buyers that have called to check on the legitimacy of the online sellers, discovered the fraud and dodged the scheme.
Bergren said the Fergus Falls Police Department has made some effort to help the victims.
“We’ve tried to reach out to the online companies to get the fraudsters shut down,” Bergren said.
The Minnesota Commerce Department’s Fraud Bureau has been working on breaking up the scam within the state.
Yet Bergren knows there are other states to operate from and the fraudsters are likely to just keep moving.
“Hopefully they collar them or get them to shut down so they aren’t out there defrauding any more people,” Bergren said.