Scam artists are now posing as members of the United States military in a new ruse to dupe consumers buying vehicles on the Internet, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns.

These scammers claim theyve either been sent overseas to improve military relations or need to sell their vehicles quickly and cheaply because of upcoming deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan, FBI officials say.

This is a new twist to an old scam that continues to rip-off unsuspecting consumers buying cars and other vehicles on the Internet, the FBI says.

Victims find attractively priced vehicles advertised at different Internet classified ad sites, the agency warns. Most of the scams include some type of third-party vehicle protection program to ensure a safe transaction.

After consumers receive what the FBI calls convincing e-mails from the phony vehicle protection program, they are told to send either the full payment -- or a percentage of the payment -- to the third-party agent using a wire payment service.

No vehicles are delivered to the victims, the FBI said.

Consumers can protect themselves from getting taken in one of these schemes by doing their homework before buying any vehicles on the Internet, the FBI said. Consumers should also know and follow the rules used by the Internet sites they visit. If someone asks you to break those rules, the FBI warns, that person is likely trying to rip you off.