: Scam alert

03-02-10, 09:29 AM
Just a public service announcement.
I found this listing on auto-trader. I suspected the owner simply transposed the price (i.e. was asking $41,000 not $14,000) but figured I'd at least see what was going on with it, maybe some exceptional circumstance led him to need a quick sale. It was close enough that I could go see the car before purchase and make sure everything was "correct".

The seller wrote back to me and said the price was correct at $14k and he needed a quick sale as part of a divorce settlement. This was of course fishy, but plausible. I expressed my interest, and he responded that he had recently moved to Florida, but could have the car shipped to me for $250 (!!), I would put the money in an escrow, and have 3-5 days to decide if I wanted to keep the car, and if not return it for a refund. His fatal flaw? He specified doing the transaction through Ebay, but the car is not listed in any way on Ebay. I checked the Ebay page and they show that they do not offer any escrow service for this type of thing. Also did a vin search on google and it came up with a LOT of craigslist listings... that had all been removed. I've forwarded his information to Ebay, Auto-Trader, and Carfax, but just wanted to post here as well in case anyone else was tempted by a $14k STSV. I pretty much lost interest once there was talk of giving somebody else money before I had seen the car, but pursued it for sake of ensuring it was a scam so I could notify others if so.

If anyone here owns this car you might want to alert someone (not sure who?) that your VIN is involved in a scam.

03-02-10, 10:45 AM
My friend was scammed by one of theese people. The story content is always the same just varies slightly. Once you confirm you would like to buy it they even send a fake invoice sort of thing with Ebay's name written all over. It also comes from an Email address with E-bay's name in it.
Why my friend would wire transfer $4800 to some place in California I have no idea. Live and learn I guess.

I wish we could set up some sort of show like to catch a predator. "to catch a ebay scammer" lol

They already did a show that was similar. but not like this.

03-02-10, 10:48 AM
I just checked the autotrader site, and the ad was removed.
Once he had to suddenly move to florida "due to divorce" I was pretty suspicious. The whole Ebay thing just seemed kind of rediculous.

03-02-10, 12:51 PM
I saw the same type of ad this past summer. In one case I reported to AutoTrader, the person has the same pictures in his ad as another person ad in a different state. The price was very low. I didn't make any inquiries since the price was too good to be true and I smelled a rat.


03-02-10, 01:20 PM
Since the auto-trader listing was removed, the VIN that was listed is

The carfax that Auto-Trader provided was clean and all added up. Showed it was a GM vehicle, sold in 12/2008 with 3k miles on it.

03-02-10, 03:01 PM
I saw one on the BMW forums a year or two ago that was a reverse scam (buyer scammed the seller). A buyer from across the country was buying an e92. He negotiated with the seller to write up a bill of sale for a couple bucks rather than the $50k, to save on taxes. The buyer sent a certified check for the full amount, the seller deposited it. The seller's bank said the funds were good and the seller shipped the car. Later that week he still didn't have the funds in the account and called his bank. The bank said the check was reported stolen by the buyer and the funds did not end up transferring (even though his bank had told him the check was good).

So now the buyer has a new M3, the title, and a bill of sale for the car. He probably sent $10 that the bill of sale says he paid, so for all intents and purposes he got an M3 for ten bucks!

The seller was doing all he could to get his car back or the $$, calling his local police and the buyer's police. When I last saw the post he was having the FBI look into it because the police weren't doing anything. Since it was a transfer between states the FBI could hopefully take some action.

03-02-10, 04:36 PM
That car was serviced at a dealer in Michigan on December 15th.

03-03-10, 09:13 AM
Carfax showed it was titled in Michigan. Didn't think too much of it at the time, since people move around, but after the scam attempt I'm guessing that it's still in Michigan.
Wish there was some way to "flag" that VIN for suspicious behaviour.

03-03-10, 09:27 AM
I'm wondering if the person who actually owns the car with this VIN even knows that it is being "sold"? I'm beginning to suspect that someone just found a valid VIN and is just using it and that the real owner has no idea.

Just a thought, but it might be a kind gesture to notify the Michigan DMV or the Cadillac dealer where the car was serviced so that they could contact the legitimate owner and let them know what is going on.

03-03-10, 03:50 PM
I saw the same "deal" listed a couple of months ago and corresponded with someone via email for a couple of days with the same "story" you've mentioned. I am a pretty cynical person sometimes and this smelled fishy from jump - so nothing was lost except for some time checking it out. I ran the vin and it came up for sale at a dealership in Florida, so I informed them and gave them all the info I had on the guy. I also contacted the Indiana AG's office and was referred to the FBI and filled out some report online detailing the whole thing. I doubt I will ever hear from them though - it's too bad someone has to actually "lose" something before anyone will pursue it. BUT, I am sure the FBI has plenty to do w/o chasing around these hacks. My neighbor wanted to mess with the guy and make him think we were sending money to different banks & stuff just to make him chase some funds around that he'd never actually get, but I didn't want to waste any more time on the loser.

I wish I would have thought to share the scenario on here for everyone to be forwarned - thanks for doing it!