While looking for a new car, a local woman got sucked into a common con that cost her thousands.
Jean Ford thought she had found the car she'd been searching for on Craigslist: a 2001 Acura, for 46-hundred bucks. It seemed like a great deal.
She contacted the seller, who said she just moved here to Seattle from Lousiana...and needed to sell the car quickly, but she wouldn't meet Jean in person.
"She really wanted to do this through email," Jean says.
That should have been RED FLAG #1.
The seller said the car was back in Louisiana.
That should have been RED FLAG #2. You don't ever complete a car deal with an out of state owner. Way too much can go wrong.
But Jean checked the car's VIN through Carfax, and it came back clean, so she went ahead with it.
"She was going to pay for the shipping of the car, but to protect us both we'd go through Ebay", Jean says.
Jean received a very official looking email from "Ebay Motors", with instructions on how to wire the $4600 through Moneygram to somebody else, in Montana. It seemed fishy, but the money would only be released, she was told, when she took delivery and was satisfied with the car.
That should have been RED FLAG #3. Why would you have to wire money? Especially if it was part of Ebay? Once you wire money, it is gone. The only "release" of the funds, is when the person stops by the Moneygram office and takes your money.
But after she wired the money, a big problem: she now needed to wire another $4200 to cover insurance for the car while in transit.
She tried to contest it, but the seller threatened to take action against Jean.
No payment, no car, they said. And they threatened Jean, saying she would lose the $4600 she already paid.
"That got me scared", Jean says,"so I borrowed more money from a family member and sent that to them as well."
The thieves contacted her again, asking for even more money, but by this time Jean realized that she had been ripped off. she's out $8800, and there's no car. She has filed claims with the police and the FBI to try to get her money back.
Another viewer emailed me to tell me about a similar scam that she almost fell for:
Here's the email that she received, after respoding to a listing for an ATV for sale on Craigslist:
First of all I want to thank you for your interest for my atv. I sell it at this price ($3300) because i want a fast sale, I just finished the divorce with my husband and i want to start a new life.
The atv is in excellent working condition, no scratches, flaws or any kind of damage, slightly used in 100% working with a clear title.
From the beginning you have to know that for the payment I request only secure pay, I prefer the payment to be made using eBay services.
We will use a safe payment method because I am affiliated at ebay and I have a purchase protection account for $20,000. The final price that I want for this atv is $3300 including shipping and handling costs.
If you are interested in buying it please provide me your full name and address so I can initiate the deal through eBay.
I will wait your answer(if you are interested to buy) very soon.
And another one:
The ebay car scam is not just limited to cars. The same thing has been happening for tractors on Craigslist. I have pasted below a couple of responses to inquiries I have made about used Kubota tractors on Craigslist. Except for the product and the names/locations, the story is very similar. It would be lovely if you could update your information so that folks know that it is more than an ebay motors scam - more of a Craigslist-big-ticket-item scam. I have also talked to other people on Craigslist who have had the same sort of contact and can provide you their contact information. Response to 2004 Kubota tractor posting:
"Hello, The tractor is in perfect condition. The amount you will have to pay in order to own this tractor is $3,800 with shipping costs and insurance included. It's perfect in every way. The tractor is at shipping center from San Jose/CA. It sealed and ready to be shipped. Shipping to your location will be made through DAS, the eBay shipping company and will be take 3 days. They will handle the transaction for me. You will make the payment to eBay and they will hold the money until you receive the tractor. ONLY AFTER you will receive and test for 10 days the tractor, eBay will release the money to me. This way we are both protected. I just finished the divorce process with my husband and as a single woman I don't need this tractor. Now I am in San Jose at my parents. I am in a wheel-chair. It was an accident two years ago. In fact this is the divorce reason. My husband told me that he want a young and healthy woman because I have 35 years and he don't need me anymore. You will also receive all the documentation required for registration. I will send you all the papers and documents. Since it is on eBay I have to make the transaction through them. For I can start the deal at eBay I need your full name and shipping address. I'll wait your decision regarding my tractor as soon as possible.
Looking forward to hear from you,
There was no listing for this on Ebay.
Here is another fishy response I got for another tractor on Craigslist:
"Hi, Thank you for your interest in purchasing my tractor. The tractor has 29 hours, 24 HP, 4WD and a clear title. I am a private seller and I had (for the moment) the privilege to buy this tractor for a low cost from a bankrupt store so that you have the opportunity to purchase from me at a great saving from the original price. The tractor looks and works like new and it will come with all the original manuals. I have opened a farm two years ago in Kansas City, MO but the farm is not working anymore and I decided with my partner to cover some money by selling all the units that we have. The price of $4,850.00 includes all the shipping costs and insurance, so you won't have to pay any extra charges. E-mail me back if you are interested."
I didn't respond and won't buy anything online that I cannot physically go see and verify.
Best of luck with your investigations.
Here's another one:
Craigs list: 2005 Acura TL with 14,250 miles for $5400 including shipping. She said her husband died in Iraq 3 months ago and car brings back memories. I ask her to look at the car and she said it was in Texas. She didn't know I have a nephew there and again I asked to look at the car. She said it was all wrapped up at the shipping company. I tried to red flag her but she removed the ad.
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