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Anatomy of an automotive scam

Here is just one more example of why you should only buy a car that you can see and touch, rather than trusting somebody on Craig’s List who–supposedly–is selling a car in a far-away state.

I guess that if you can sit around all day and not work a real job…you have all the time in the world to plan ways to make money off of unsuspecting innocent people.

The people who were scammed are out their money and so are the companies used in the scam, and if prosicuted they will get a slap on the wrist and they will think of a new way to get around the system with their next scam.


Another common Craigslist scam is a fancy car at a cheap price, ‘out of state’ of course. Money changes hands, no car…Craigslist has gotten pretty good at deleting those ads, but I’m sure a few slip through.

My Dad taught me to be skeptical. A lesson that’s served me well over the years. I’ve dodged a few scams over the years.

About 15 years ago I was working for a startup. We needed to buy some servers. Found this listing in Craigslist…the price IMHO was way too low. Called anyways…and the guy said he got the systems from a failed company…and was selling them fast and cheap. I was still very skeptical…so I passed…

Two days later…there’s a blurb in the paper about a couple of guys getting robbed at gun-point trying to buy a few servers they found on Craigslist. I called the police and sure enough it was the same ad I ALMOST went for.

We ended up buy refurbished servers directly from HP. More then what the scammers wanted…but a lot cheaper then new…and we didn’t get ripped off.

Rule #1: If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Yep, bought “new in box” HP ink cartridge on Amazon for half the price at Walmart. Didn’t work. Seller cheerfully sent a replacement. Worked for 2 months, a few printings. Noticed date on cartridge: Apr., 2009. Bought Walmart’s dated Dec., 2015.

A couple of months ago, a Mercedes broke down right in front of my house. Transmission fluid was all over the street. It turned out that the woman had had all kinds of problems with the car which she had owned for less than a month. Her mechanic advised her that she had bought a lemon. She bought the car on ebay from another state. She told me that the car looked great in the pictures.
I had to agree that it was a nice looking car, but if I buy a car, I need to examine the car, not just look at pictures.

“I buy a car, I need to examine the car, not just look at pictures.”

But, to refer back to that other thread about "dirty questions to ask when buying a car’–where the OP talked about people being surprised to find out that their new car came sans spare tire–I have to wonder again if some people consider anything other than the color of a car when they buy it.

Peaches? MoneyPak, Bamboozeled, Ebay shipping container, I dunno, I think some people should just stay off the computer. I mean what do they think? Far easier to avoid problems in the first place than to extricate yourself from them after the fact.

+1 @‌Bing -

  1. Find car
  2. Inspect and drive that car
  3. Obtain financing from my source
  4. Buy car

If any other steps are involved I’m not interested. Cars aren’t rare commodities, no need to even consider some unusual source or oddball terms.

I would never buy a car off of craigslist. I bought a couple of cars off of eBay years ago and learned my lesson. The first guy was honest and the second one was a crook. It took me 6 months to get the proper title because the first one was bogus (out of state of course). The authorities finally tracked him down but they just gave him a slap on the wrist. He was removed from eBay after the ruse was reported but he probably changed his name and is at it again under another alias.


@Bing–The name of the weekly column by our local consumer reporter is Bamboozled, and each week this award-winning reporter recounts tales of people who were…bamboozled…by unscrupulous home improvement contractors, merchants, and other crooks. Of her own volition, and in conjunction with the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs, that reporter–Karin Price Mueller–has managed to get refunds for scores of consumers.

Craigslist works fine for buying or selling almost anything including cars as long as you follow a few simple rules…Local transactions only. No shipping. Cars must have a clear title and be available for inspection. Payments are made in CASH directly between the buyer and the seller…If things start to get complicated, walk away and flag the ad…

Hip hip for Bamboozled if they are able to extricate people from scams, but still tis better to avoid them in the first place. I would be very very careful with Craigslist. In the Minneapolis area there have been more than several people killed, beaten, robbed, shot, as they answered a Craigslist ad to buy or sell. Its just simply not safe, even in a public meeting place.

“I would be very very careful with Craigslist”

Just as with Facebook, I see no need to be involved–in any way–with Craig’s List.
Facebook is probably a bit less likely to cause financial or physical harm to somebody than Craig’s List has been on many occasions, but I seem to be able to go about my daily business very well w/o the use of either of those sites.

In line with Bing’s comment about people killed, shot etc. while trying to make a buy on Craigslist- in Milwaukee the police want you to meet in the lobby of the police station. It might help prevent some incidents, and it might keep a certain element away altogether.

@Mayday - great idea, one’s a couple of block from here, so I’ll keep that in mind.

I bought a car for my mom, from a Craigslist ad a few years ago

The seller was very careful. He met us in the crowded outside parking lot of a busy shopping mall, which was apparently nowhere near where he lived. I did my inspection right there, in the parking lot. I hooked up my scanner, all was good. I tested all the creature features, looked over the car carefully, inside and out. I crawled under the car, stuck my head in every fender well.

Then we both went on a test drive. Everything was fine.

The money exchange took place inside a bank lobby of the seller’s choosing, in plain view of the armed security guard

He said he’d gotten burned a few times selling items on craigslist, that’s why he was taking no chances this time

I can’t imagine sending $3,000 off into the abyss in hopes that a good running car will be delivered to my house. I have purchased vehicles advertised on Craig’s list, no different than the newspaper. You must inspect the vehicle to assess its value.

I doubt this woman has any business buying an $1800 fixer-upper. This advocate got half her money returned to her, now she can do it again.

A number of people have been taken to the cleaners on car deals when dealing with a hijacked eBay account. Greed shoves common sense aside when they think they can buy that low miles 2011 Honda Accord for 4 grand and so they fire off the money without covering the bases first…

About 10 years ago someone hijacked my eBay account and listed over 900 auctions under my ID.
I had not been on eBay in a week and it came as a surprise to find that I could not get into my own account, no way, no how. I spent quite some time on the phone with eBay before they informed me as to what was going on and to their credit they put a hold on all of those auctions immediately. They were removed in blocks of about 50 but it took 2 days to do it.

The scammer was someone in London, England and how many people lost money on my ID while cursing me to the end of time is something I do not know and never will know.