Anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
ar-enthusiast Web site Jalopnik recently published several reports detailing a possible scam involving Super Replicas, a company that promised to build replicas of mega-expensive super cars for the price of mainstream family cars. Jalopnik's reporting probes the company's apparent lack of ability to deliver on its promises—and it's a story we've seen before.
Those looking to invest in a supercar or replica on the cheap need to be vigilant in order to keep from being ripped off. Here's how.
Be suspicious: Anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is. In the case of Super Replicas, the company was offering cars at a fraction of the price that they would cost new from the factory. Even considering that these were replicas, building niche cars on a small scale isn't cheap, and factory parts (or good aftermarket equivalents) aren't inexpensive, either. You wouldn't buy a Rolex for $5 (or even a Rolex replica for $5), so why would you be convinced that a $49,000 replica of a $250,000 car is legit?
Do your research: The Internet is a great place for research. There are Web sites dedicated to sniffing out scams, and plenty of message boards and forums where users can help you by providing useful advice. Car-review and car-enthusiast sites can also provide details about the original cars. Organizations like the Better Business Bureau can help you dig into a company's history to see if any complaints have been lodged. Finally, if anything about a company is fishy—such as Super Replicas' habit of claiming endorsements from celebrities that didn't actually happen—news sites and blogs may have already called them out.
Ask to see the cars in person: If possible, travel to the company's shop and check out its operations. A clean shop with completed examples of its work is far more likely to be on the up and up. A shop that won't allow visitors, or one that is based overseas, might be shady.
Be careful with foreign-based shops: Builders located overseas might tout cheaper prices due to cheaper labor/cheaper costs of doing business, but a lot of foreign countries have lax business regulations that might make it easier for a corrupt company to get away with dirty dealings.
Pay attention to quality: Super Replicas likely came to the attention of Jalopnik in part because of its poor-quality YouTube videos. With laughable advertising like that, a company appears to be fly-by-night, and that should arouse suspicion.
Above all, use common sense: As noted above, something that seems too good true likely is. In the case of Super Replicas, unrealistic promises combined with a foreign location and low-quality marketing materials added up to a company that seems shady. Most reputable companies will have a solid Web site and Web presence to go along with professional-quality marketing materials.
When dealing with niche companies, spending a little time on extra research will save a lot of money.