Phony web sites hijacking car dealers' business, buyers' down payments

Phony web sites claiming to be those of real car dealers have scammed buyers out of down payments and cars in at least seven states.

Both dealer and buyer are victims in the scam, which has in some circumstances produced more than a thousand calls from angry consumers to bewildered dealerships, sometimes after money is wired across country. Prospective buyers -- and dealers -- find out there's a rip-off when buyers try to make arrangements to pick up the car, usually advertised as repossessed.

The Better Business Bureau has received complaints from dealerships in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas. Most recently, said national BBB spokeswoman Alison Southwick, the Memphis, Tenn., BBB took a complaint about local dealershipAmerica Auto Sales.