Fake soldier car sale
As if worrying about the Craig’s List Killer wasn’t bad enough, now we have the Craig’s List/EBay scammers. In this con ads are posted where cars are listed for sale at unreasonably low prices by supposed military personnel who are in foreign ports or who are foreign nationals who can’t afford to register their vehicles in the US or Canada. Regardless of the fact they claim the money will be held in escrow in an eBay Buyer Protection Program in order to ensure 100% protection, this, like the rest of the ad is a lie.
There are several reasons why these cons are raising havoc with today’s car buyers. First, those who contact these individuals for additional information are, in essence, providing IP addresses which allow those who are also crackers and hackers to invade personal computers where they can plant viruses in order to access personal information. For those demonstrating a real interest, a down payment is requested which is never seen again. Although the money is put into an eBay Buyer Protection Program, these are fake eBay sites run out of Czechoslovakia that, although shut down as soon as they are identified, can’t be stopped until a report of fraud has been reported. In other words, eBay can’t identify a fraud any better than the rest of us can.
There are many reasons why eBay Buyer Protection is not valid in this case. One of the primary reasons is because neither the car nor the seller is located in the US or Canada. If you read the buyer protection plan carefully, number 4 states “You, the seller, the vehicle, and the financial institutions on which payment was drawn, and to which payment was made, must have been located in one of the fifty US states or Canada on the listing’s end date.” In this case, if a car exists at all, it isn’t here and the VIN number provided is also bogus.
Various cars are involved and pictures are provided in the advertisements. A 2006 Accord EX, 2006 Acura, 1996 Chevrolet Impala, and 2006 Infiniti G35 AWD are a few that seem to bring the most response. So, how can you tell when ads are legitimate and when they’re scams? One way is to copy any portion of the ad and paste it into a search engine. If you get hundreds of hits it’s probably a scam. In fact, in a review of the wording of this particular ad the exact same wording was used in no less than 10 others cases with the same story and only the vehicle sold different. Also, don’t rely on the soldier’s name. So far this individual has gone by a variety of names both foreign sounding as well as domestic.
Unfortunately Craig’s List, which was designed to keep transfer and trade local, has also become a vehicle for this scam. The cars are always flawless, are unavailable for viewing, contain a generic email account rather than a phone number, and include payment through the eBay Buyer Protection Program even though eBay does not accept payments for items not sold directly through their site. Once the commit to buy is hit, the buyer is redirected to a fake eBay Motors page where the name of the seller’s agent is listed along with instructions to send a MoneyGram for the total amount. Even through the agent’s name is listed it, along with the entire eBay Motors site, is bogus. If you get this far, you have been duped.
In a cursory review of Craig’s List ads, 45autos were found to be fake ads. The best way to protect yourself is to see the vehicle before purchase along with all paperwork involved and the driver’s license of the seller which you can then compare to the registration. Be sure to check the VIN number which is located in the lower part of windshield usually on the driver’s side against the registration and note the license plate number. Finally, call the police before turning over money to ensure it is not a stolen vehicle. Requesting assistance from authorities, if any information does not match, is a great way to play a positive role in stopping scams. The authorities are working hard to stop these types of crimes, but it’s going to take everyone’s help to do it.