Purchasing a vehicle you find online can be a risky proposition if you aren’t careful. A consumer recently told us cyber scammers duped her into buying a car and she lost thousands of dollars.
EBay Motor Company posted a car for sale on Craigslist. The price seemed right, so the consumer wired money to the business. When the vehicle never arrived, she emailed them again to see what the hold-up was. EBay Motor Company wanted her to wire even more money – this time to pay for delivery insurance.
This is when she realized she had been scammed.
For BBB, the first red flag should have been the company’s name – EBay Motor Company. Scammers often pose as well-know companies, like eBay, to give you a false sense of security. eBay is a well-know online auction where consumers can purchase a variety of goods, even vehicles. Then what could compel eBay to take a vehicle off their website to sell it on Craigslist instead? Obviously, this isn’t eBay.
The real eBay offers protection to buyers if the transaction happens to go bad. But the real eBay warns if the vehicle isn’t sold through their website, they can’t protect you. The eBay Vehicle Protection Program doesn’t cover transaction conducted outside an eBay auction.
Sending money by Western Union is another red flag. Wiring money is risky because happens fast and it’s virtually untraceable, like cash. You should never wire money to anyone you don’t know.
Consumers who want to purchase a vehicle online should make sure:
- You can inspect the vehicle before the purchase – Criminals will often make excuses as to why you can’t inspect the vehicle. That’s a red flag.
- Avoid listings for vehicles priced way below market value – That’s a sign that perhaps the offer is too good to be true.
- Avoid transactions that move from the original website to another site – buyer protection programs won’t work if you move the transaction outside the original website.
- You don’t wire money – If you are asked to wire money you are putting yourself at great risk.
If you have witnessed this behavior or fallen victim to this type of scam, please report it to us at www.bbb.org. We also strongly encourage you to file a complaint with the IC3 at www.IC3.gov and report it to your local police. If the ad was found on Craigslist, Ohio consumers can also report the fraud directly to the Ohio Attorney General’s office using a link Craigslist‘s “about scams” page at www.craigslist.org/about/scams.