Attorney General's office warns Alaskans against flooded vehicles scam

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) The state Attorney General's consumer protection unit is warning Alaskans about buying flood damaged vehicles.

While Alaska is thousands of miles away from communities damaged by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Attorney General's office said Alaska could be targeted by scammers.

Cindy Franklin, an assistant attorney general in the commercial and fair business section, said scammers typically won't be trying to sell vehicles that were flooded in regions where hurricanes caused significant damage because people in the area would likely be more suspicious.

Instead, Franklin said scammers will likely target places outside of the damaged area, particularly in states which don't directly track flooded vehicles.

After hurricanes Harvey and Irma, an estimated 1 million vehicles damaged by flooding could make their way to unsuspecting buyers.

Experts say scammers tend to come out after any natural disaster, but one tell tale sign of a potentially damaged vehicle could be if the advertised price is significantly lower than the blue book value.

Franklin said before you make a purchase, there is a key precaution all potential buyers should take.

"Any time that a vehicle is substantially less than the blue book value run a vehicle history report and really run a vehicle history report anyway, even if the vehicle wasn't flooded it may have been wrecked and if it was wrecked, the air bags may have deployed," Franklin said.

"...and right now because one of the major airbag manufacturers in the world is undergoing bankruptcy, replacing airbags after market after a vehicle crash is very expensive and often worth often costs more than the value of the vehicle itself."

The Department of Law has a consumer complaint section available here.

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