BEEBE, AR - Beebe police call it one of the biggest cases of fraud it’s ever seen, someone promising the sale of an RV. In a story you'll see only on FOX16 when customers arrive, there's no RV and they're out thousands of dollars.
It’s an advertisement for a recreational vehicle on rvclassified.com
that looks legitimate enough. So much so that Patricia Gilbert of St. George, Utah woman put up $37,000 as a down payment.
The company she sent money to calls itself Wesley Truck Sales in Beebe.
“Pretty scary actually, one of those things you think only happens to other people and not to you, but it's out there," Gilbert says.
In e-mail correspondence, a man claiming to be John Wesley Johnston tells prospective buyers to come to Beebe to look at the RV.
There's only one problem. When you come out to the GPS listed address looking for a Wesley Truck Sales you don't see an RV dealership. In fact, it's just an empty lot.
Officer Bill Nance with the Beebe Police Department says they have had victims from Iowa, California, Utah and even Canada show up at their office in the last week ready to fill out a police report.
"It (the dealership) doesn't exist,” Nance says. “And when they get here they find out they've been scammed. All this person is trying to do is get them to wire him some money. This man could be anywhere in the country and he's got people coming to Beebe from all over the United States looking to buy an RV."
We called the number listed in the e-mail. A man picked up who only identified himself as Jerry but provided few answers.
Goins says: "Are you taking people's money and not providing a product? Jerry says: "Should I have John give you a call maybe? Goins says: "Can you not answer these questions?" Jerry says: "No I cant." Goins says: "Why not?" Jerry says: "Because I can't."
He then hung up. Subsequent calls to the number yielded only busy signals.
Gilbert says she's learned a painful lesson after spending $2000-$3000 on airfare to come see an RV in Beebe that was never there.
"Don't put any money up front,” Gilbert says. “Go look at it first. And if it's not there when you get there then you're not out anything, except for your time."
Beebe police tell FOX16 the man we talked to on the phone claiming to be John Wesley Johnston is likely someone else entirely.
Someone, police believe, stole the identity of Johnston and then opened up a fraudulent business under his name.