WASHINGTON (NBC News) The FBI says crooks are selling cars online that they don’t actually own. 

The agency is teaming up with the automobile experts at Edmunds to alert consumers about the car-shopping scam. They say the crook’s objective is to get you to wire a down payment to a phony escrow account created by the thief. 

“And that really is the point at which you’re separated from your money and you never hear from them again,” said Carroll Lachnit with Edmunds.com. 

The tell-tale signs of these online car thieves is their insistence to talk by email instead of phone, and making excuses for refusing to meet in person. 

If you think you’ve encountered a car-selling scammer, alert the FBI and other consumers about your experience.