(NewsNation) — It has been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Ian made landfall, ravishing Southwest Florida communities and causing massive damage across the state.
According to local reports, cars are among the countless items residents in those areas are learning they have to replace, as Carfax estimates more than 300,000 vehicles were potentially damaged due to flooding.
Yet despite a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude, officials are warning of a scam: dealerships trying to sell faulty vehicles to the vulnerable.
“Historically, we see a majority of those vehicles end up back on the road,” Emilie Voss, the director of public relations at Carfax, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Monday.
Voss went on to say potential car buyers should look out no matter where they live, as there’s a chance these cars from Florida will be shipped across the country.
“A lot of times with these flood cars, these unscrupulous sellers, they buy them, they fix them up. They make them look cosmetically great, and they might even run great the day that you buy them, but they will have issues down the road,” Voss said.
Attorneys general in both Illinois and Georgia have sounded the alarm after Hurricane Ian, warning used car consumers to look out for water marks or a musty odor.
“Obviously, look under your walls and see if there’s any marks,” Dusty Cox, who is a mechanic, told “Rush Hour” on Monday.
Cox also says to be wary of possible “title washing,” which would cover up a car’s damage history.
“It’s very difficult to tell. I mean, if they want to cover it up, they’re good at covering it up. Sometimes, it’ll take years before you’ll even know if you have a problem,” Dusty said.
An attorney general in Pennsylvania announced the arrest of 19 people in a title washing scheme just last week.
Officials warn the scam is not new, but with a shortage of both new and used cars right now, cam artists may be further motivated to sell these flood-damaged cars.