Car Listing Scam
You can buy almost anything online these days, including used cars, whether through Online Auto Buying Services such as Autoland (a free service for our members) or through online auction or sales websites. The convenience, though, can come with risks, particularly on the auction or sales sites, when you don’t know with whom you’re doing business.
Scammers Trying To Sell Cars They Don’t Own
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a useful article about phony car listings. Essentially, the scam works like this:
The scammer advertises on online auction and sales websites for inexpensive used cars (that they don’t really own). They offer to chat online, share photos, and answer questions. They may even reference a reputable buyer protection program. Recently, sellers have been sending fake invoices that appear to come from eBay Motors, requesting payment in eBay gift cards (demanding gift cards as payment should always raise a red flag). If you call the number on the invoice, the scammer pretends to work for eBay Motors.
Warning Signs of a Fake Listing
Before you commit to buying online, consider these warning signs:
- You find bad reviews online
- Seller tries to rush the sale with high-pressure sales tactics
- They can’t or won’t meet for you to inspect the car
- They want you to pay by gift card or wire transfer
- After the sale, the seller demands additional money for “shipping” costs
- The VIN doesn’t match – a Vehicle History Report will show this, which you can obtain at vehiclehistory.gov
More Tips for Protecting Yourself