Buy a car from a millionaire's estate of 4,000 cars- Scam!

Get a Great Deal on a Car From the Estate of a Millionaire Who Owned 4,000 Of Them-Scam!

Summary of eRumor:
The story is that a millionaire has died, leaving behind 4,000 cars.  His instructions to his heirs are to sell the cars for cheap prices to Christians who need them.  You are offered the chance to buy one but are told that the money needs to be paid up-front and that you’ll get your car as soon as the estate gets through probate.
The Truth:
According to inquiries to, there are people in Tennessee, Okalahoma, and California who have collectively paid thousands of dollars for what they thought were too good to be true prices on used cars.  They were told that the cars were from a group of 4,000 vehicles that were part of a rental fleet owned by a multi-millionaire.  The story was that the owner had died and had specified in his will that he wanted the cars sold for low prices to Christians who needed them.  That was several months ago and so far, according to the buyers, none of the cars has materialized.  One odd twist is that the contracts are with a woman in Memphis, Tennessee, and involving a business called Auto Emporium, but some of the buyers have also been told to split their payments for the cars between the Memphis woman and various Christian ministries and that the portions paid to the ministries will be “donations” and, therefore, tax deductible. Most of the people who have put money down on cars have learned of the opportunity through other church members.  When expressing concern over the fact that the cars have not materialized, buyers are told that the delay is because of probate and that the cars will be available soon.  None of the buyers has been given any specific information on the cars such as vehicle identification or license numbers.  Some of them say that the person whose name is on the contract is not the person they deal with and give their money to.
According to the Better Business Bureau, they’ve received inquiries about Auto Emporium and this estate automobile sale from more than 20 states and from as far back as 2000.  The BBB says most of the buyers have been under the impression they are getting cars from the estate of a millionaire named John Bowers.  Some of them have been told the cars are in California.  Others have been told they are in New York.  The BBB has asked Auto Emporium for proof of the estate, the estate’s attorneys, and the fleet of cars but has not gotten a reply.
Additionally, the Better Business bureau says that information they have on file indicates that an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office has concluded that the cars being offered to not exist.
The BBB has issued a statement that warns, “The Better Business Bureau cautions prospective purchasers that, given the conclusions of federal investigators, you will lose any money that you send to this company or to anyone else connected with this offering.”
A Fraud investigator for the Bartlett, Tennessee police department, where Auto Emporium is located, says they are aware of the complaints and refer all calls to the FBI.  The FBI declined to confirm whether they are investigating but said they are interested in any information from people who have made any of the purchases.  They encourage you to call your nearest FBI office to make a report.

Last updated 4/10/02