Even those who seem to have checked out every angle are falling victim to an online scam that may span from Indianapolis to Sweden. It starts out on a reputable site, but then you're transferred to a fake one.
Fox59 is taking action for you, to show how clicking on a link from a legit site doesn't necessarily mean you're safe.
"We've been saving for a long time so we could get this van so we could have room for everybody,' said Marcie Po.
She and her husband, Juanito Po have a toddler and a baby on the way, so they went searching for a family van. They never intended to actually buy a car online, but searched locally on craigslist to see what was out there.
One seller had a great deal on a van they were interested in, and said he had so many potential buyers, he was taking the car off craigslist, and up for auction on Ebay Motors for the highest bidder, Po said.
"Both of us were very hesitant. It wasn't something either of us would think about doing. We didn't even go on EBay until we found this vehicle,' Po said.
There's the problem. Since they were linked from the seller, not their own online search to what appeared to be EBay Motors, there isn't a way to verify it's the real Ebay Motors. They exactly the same.
"We were even communicating with someone online, thinking it was an EBay representative, it was actually a criminal,' Po said.
The details indicated that you wire transfer the money to EBay, they hold it for seven days so you can take the car to a mechanic. Then you can send it back if it doesn't satisfy what you're looking for. If you like it, then eBay sends the money on to the seller.
That made the Po family feel protected.
"It's a large amount of money, it's not something you do lightly,' Po said.
They wire transferred 11 thousand dollars, never got the car, and the seller is long gone. Basically, they got taken by a scam artist operating a fake website, not connected to eBay Motors at all.
He goes by the seller's name "Trevino' and on the fake site has 13 years of online selling records and great reviews.
The crime scheme seems to spread the county and the globe. Donald Gauntner, A detective in the Economic Crimes for the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department is trying to find this person too.
"They'll go to any large city and basically list the same item at every city and just put a lot of ads out there and hope they get a response from potential buyers,' Gauntner said.
He said his department is involved in this because the bank account the suspect used was opened in Ft. Lauderdale, but the passport is from Sweden.
"The person opened the account with a foreign passport with at this point we believe to be a counterfeit or fraudulent passport,' Gauntner said.
He also said craigslist has a "how to recognize a vehicle scam' section that you must go through to even browse the cars.
The message online is clear. It says "do not buy vehicles sight-unseen, regardless of low price. The vehicle does not exist, and any money you send will be lost.' It says to beware of: offers to ship a car to you, eBay motors or another intermediary being specified by the seller or a money wire being requested .
The Po family thought they did their research, since they got the car's Carfax history report and the promise of a return option, but now they're just out of money.
"We really thought we'd checked out every angle and we really thought we were OK,' Po said.
Detective Gauntner said the way to tell if the site is legit, is to copy the item number from the link sent to you, then open up eBay in a new browser and search for the item number to see if it comes up.
On Craigslist, if you see those types of ads, you're asked to flag them as "fraudulent' so craigslist can remove them.
Visit this site to see the full warning on craigslist: http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cgi-bin/autos.cgi?&category=cta/
Taking Action for You: Bait and switch web scam
Even those who seem to have checked out every angle are falling victim to an online scam that may span from Indianapolis to Sweden. It starts out on a reputable site, but then you¿re transferred to a fake one.
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