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2004 Toyota Prius - $3800

What is the likelihood of this - 77K miles, no accidents, one owner, clear title for $3800? Craigslist, posted today by a dealer in Denver. Consumer Reports show this car beginning at $10K…checked VIN and 5 incidents - though one would need to pay $30 for details.

I’d be very wary - are you far from Denver? Nobody’s giving these things away, if it’s 1/2 off, it must have major problems.

I’m here in Denver – just sent an email to the “seller” and will let you know. It’s not listed on The Denver Post, or so it sounds like a scam to me. My guess is I’ll get an email saying “I’m visiting my sick aunt in west Africa and need to sell this car…”

I’ll post the “seller’s” reply if I get one.


Good point about the scam angle. It’s very common for great car deals on Craigslist to turn out to be a scam, no car, just lost money for the buyer.

No phone number is also a scammer giveaway. It’s fake – Just received this:

message undeliverable?
From: craigslist remailer daemon (
Medium riskYou may not know this sender.Mark as safe|Mark as junk
Sent: Tue 8/25/09 10:02 AM

Sorry, but the craigslist user address you recently mailed ( does not seem to be valid. It could be you’re trying to respond to a very old posting, or that the user has not requested anonymous email forwarding. Please check the address and try again.

---- The original headers appear below this line ----
Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 6B708976BA
for; Tue, 25 Aug 2009 09:02:01 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from BAY111-W15 ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);
Tue, 25 Aug 2009 09:02:01 -0700
Message-ID: BAY111-W15FD7D87DE4402BF168A8781F80@phx.gbl
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Originating-IP: []
From: Two Tone
Subject: 04 Toyota Prius ONE OWNER - $3800
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 10:01:59 -0600
Importance: Normal
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 25 Aug 2009 16:02:01.0233 (UTC) FILETIME=[61AD7010:01CA259D]

Thanks, thought so…I am in Denver itself…just emailed the poster and it came back. No other means to contact…and guess what - the exact ad is posted in Boston. Didn’t bother to look further - I have flagged it.

Scammers almost always appear to be giving something away for far less than it is worth. Since that appears to be the case here, and since the contact information for the seller is invalid, you have two very good reasons to avoid this “wonderful deal”.

And, if that wasn’t enough, why would anyone want a vehicle that had been in 5 accidents in 5 years? If someone can’t pay enough attention to traffic details in order to avoid so many accidents, it is just as likely that he/she paid very little attention to maintenance details.

This one stinks like three day old fish.

Five “incidents” are not necessarily “accidents” – carfax considers scheduled maintenance, warranty service, recalls, title issues, registrations, sales, etc. as incidents. You need to get the full report to see what they actually are.


Okay. I am not really familiar with Carfax. However, in the unlikely event that I was to buy a used car, I would not rely on this one tool to guide my decision.

No carfax just one of many steps. A carfax report tells me if it’s not the right car (accidents, rental, repo, etc.) – any black marks and I move on. If it passes carfax, next step is a though inspection by an independent mechanic who specialize in the make. Carfax and its competitors are just a quick and cheap first step.


It just keeps on getting better:

Subject: RE: 04 Toyota Prius ONE OWNER - $3800
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 20:14:51 -0500

Thanks for your email ! First of all I want to tell you that I’m not
located at home,in Los Angeles,where the car is.
Because of my job I have to move all the time. The price of the car is
$3,800.00 I know it may seem low, but i find it reasonable. I have
no use for the car anyway,due to my job.
I have a clean title ready to be signed. The car has no electrical or
mechanical problems.We can use eBay Safe Pay Insurer to complete the
transaction. The deal will go strictly according to eBay rules and
In order to start the official transaction, I need to know your details:
-full name and shipping address
As soon as I have them, I’ll start the official procedure and eBay
service will notify you about this. You’ll also receive important
guidelines and payment instructions from them . I’ll handle the
shipping, so this will be free of charge for you. We will use eBay
Safe Pay Insurer to manage the payment because it is the safest way
for both of us and also you will have 10 days to inspect the car
before I receive the money. Also, a refund policy will be included.

2004 Toyota Prius

Title excellent cond, all maint, 0 accidents
VIN JTDKB20U040008607
Vehicle title Clear
Engine 4 Cylinder
Mileage 77,100 miles
Transmission Automatic
Cassette player CD player
Inspection Inspected

Safe pay, is that paypal?

Craigslist is full of these scams. I have never bothered emailing them. They either would send you a check for extra and ask you to wire the difference. That cashier’s check is not real. In this case maybe he/she is just after info like name and DOB and SSN. Just think about it, if this car just drove in any dealership, he/she could get $5000+ for this car-if the car existed and is in one piece. So why would they sell it to you for much cheaper. I used to flag these once in a while, but got tired of doing that too. The most annoying part is that when I want to sell my car, these ads clutter the whole site and the buyers get confused.

I was the one who began this discussion. Aside from the fact that eBay does not offer this service, the identical ad was posted in Boston. I didn’t bother checking further; I flagged both. Free shipping from LA to Denver or Boston??? I agree that it becomes time consuming and doesn’t seem to stop it from happening. Craigslist does have a banner which reads “ALL OFFERS TO SHIP CARS ARE 100% FRAUDULENT” then have a link on avoiding scams. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments.