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Here’s Why You Don’t Try To Buy a $275K G-Wagon off Facebook Marketplace

Online shopping is supposed to be fun and easy and, oh, full of deals you won’t find IRL. And when you spot a great buy, you snag it before someone else does. Now, the dark side of shopping online is that you are purchasing something sight unseen, sometimes with no recourse if you end up paying for a dud. For a Hawai`i man who found his dream car online for a fraction of its usual going rate, he was hoping for the former. Unfortunately, his situation turned into the latter.

Alan Sue, a 78-year-old retiree living in Maui, spotted a 2023 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen for sale on Facebook Marketplace. OK, nothing sketchy about that. Except that the dealer ad was for a G63 AMG Brabus 900 Rocket Edition. Brabus, a German high-performance tuning company, lists this particular model as a “1 of 25” custom-built vehicle. If you have to ask how much, you probably can’t afford it. We can say the pickup truck version retails for about $640,000.

The dealer, Dream Auto Collection in Hollywood, Florida, was looking to offload it for just $275,000. That, sir, is a bargain, but it’s also the biggest red flag that Sue should’ve seen even though he was nearly 5,000 miles away in Hawai`i.

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“A G-Class is the ultimate off-road Mercedes,” Sue told WPLG Local 10, a South Florida ABC affiliate. “And that is what I wanted, so I called them up, and they immediately answered the phone.” The station did a little on-the-ground investigating, and even ran a segment on it.

Sue spoke to a man named Victor, who identified himself as the owner. After coordinating his purchase, Sue sent his payment to Dream Auto via two wire transfers in exchange for a bill of sale. They agreed that the vehicle would be sent to a port in San Diego before finally shipping to Hawai`i.

But after two missed shipping deadlines in April, Sue became nervous. He apparently reached out to Victor by phone, text, and email but was ghosted. With no 900-hp G-Wagen and his savings drained, Sue’s frustration and fury escalated.

“I’m a fool,” admitted Sue. “It sounded so good. They made everything sound so nice. [But] I was stupid and foolish. Seriously, I thought about killing myself.” Hopefully, that was hyperbolic, but still.

The news channel headed to Dream Auto where reporter Jeff Weinsier confronted company president Oleg Tyulenev. Tyulenev claimed he didn’t recognize the G-Wagen and had nothing further to say to Weinsier before closing the garage bay door on him.

Shockingly (or maybe not), within 30 minutes after Local 10’s visit, the MIA Victor contacted Sue. Of course, it wasn’t with good news. Sue was told there had been a miscommunication regarding the Benz and that it had been sold to someone else. But don’t worry—he’d get a refund in August after Victor returned from his Russian holiday.

Sue hopes for the best but has zero expectations that his money will be returned. He claims that he did research on Dream Auto before agreeing to buy the G63 Brabus. Somehow, he missed the news report of Dream Auto allegedly duping an elderly Georgia couple only a few months prior. It seems they, too, purchased a vehicle online but never received it and were ignored. Their financial loss was $15,900 for a 2001 Lexus LS.

Sue has since filed complaints with the local police, the state attorney general’s office, and the FBI. There is possibly some light in this dark tunnel. Perhaps not for Sue, but for future would-be victims. A Bloomberg report shows that Brabus filed a suit in June against Dream Auto and other South Florida dealerships. The allegation? For copyright infringement through the sale of counterfeit Brabus vehicles and parts.