Auto Buyers: Beware the Craigslist Used Car Scam!

Posted on 27 May 2010


Searching for a used car?  Don’t fall prey to a scam that is rampant on Craigslist, the popular network of online communities featuring free online classified advertisements.


The opportunity to advertise products and services for free has made Craigslist a highly desirable marketplace for everything from real estate to electronics, toys, collectibles, and jobs.  Because the ads are free of charge and editorial scrutiny in the vast majority of the Craigslist communities, it is the perfect venue to perpetrate scams and other nefarious activities.


You might recall the flap over promotion and solicitation of prostitution via advertising on Craigslist.  While prostitution is often considered a victimless crime, other activities on the website can cost you dearly.  Identity thieves, those seeking to sell you various work-at-home and multi-level marketing schemes, and yet others looking to defraud you outright lurk in every corner of Craigslist.


This latter group includes the particular form of scamming of which I have recently become cognizant.  Using the Web to search for a used car on various sites, I perused Craigslist and discovered a number of amazing deals on vehicles that had relatively low mileage and were purported to be in “mint” or “perfect” condition.  Included among these were a 2006 Nissan Maxima for $2,900, a 2003 Acura RSX for $3,300, a 2005 Toyota Corolla for $2,740, and a 2008 Honda Accord for $3,400.  The advertisements for each of these cars had numerous pictures of various interior and exterior views and detailed descriptive information.  They all required you to send an email to the presumed owner for more information.


I sent emails requesting information on these vehicles and received the following responses:


For the Nissan –

 

This 2006 NISSAN MAXIMA SE SEDAN is in perfect working condition. Title Clear. My husband was recently promoted so we had to move in Omaha, Nebraska. We brought the car with us, but my husband received a new car from the company. Besides, there are a lot of things which have priority now, so, this car has to go. As you probably noticed, the price is rather low $2900 because i want to find quickly a buyer. Due to the fact I am very busy with my work and I don’t stay too much at home, the car is already to the shipping company and will be delivered from there very fast. If you are interested, please email me with your details (name and address) for the shipping process.
Mileage:  65,600 miles

 

And

 

I will make the deal only to eBay. I am a member of the eBay buyer protection program and using this service you will get a 7 days testing period after delivery. During that 7 days testing period I will not be getting any money. I need to know if you are interested in buying it so I can ask eBay to send you the details on how this works. If interested please include in your next email your contact info for eBay (name, address and #) so we can get things started. The price is $2900 with all the taxes and charges of the shipping process included.
Here is some pics with my car:
Link Removed.

Thanks.  Miranda Carle

 

For the Acura –


Hi there, Thank you so much for contacting me regarding my 2003 Acura RSX. The car has 67,611 miles is in perfect condition without any mechanical problems, tires and wheels are in great shape as well, electric is working perfectly, has a clean and clear US title without any accidents. No liens or loans on the it. Never had any paint or body work done. The engine and equipment are all in proper working order. The price is $3300.I am selling the car because of the financial crises that affected me in the same measure it affected the most inhabitants of this country. I’m in a hurry to find a buyer because I’m in debts with my bank and a few days ago I was made to work. But what it’s really worrying me is that if I don’t get money quickly I’ll lose my house because the term due at my bank is near and I don’t have the money to pay my rate. So now you can see the reason why I’m selling my car at $3300$.We will use only eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection to complete the sale. If you are interested to buy email me your full name and shipping address so I can open the case with eBay.
Thanks,
Kasie Ragsdale

 

For the Toyota –


First of all I want to thank you for your interest for my car. I sell it at this price($2,740.00 ) because I have been divorced recently and I don’t have a driver license.

Now the car is in my property.This car is in excellent working conditions, no scratches, 

flaws or any kind of damage, slightly used in 100% working and looking conditions and comes 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 done using eBay services. 

We will use a safe payment method because I am affiliated at eBay and I have a purchase protection account for $20,000.00

 

The final price that I want for this car is $2,740.00 including shipping and handling.

 

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 very soon.

 

 

Vanessa Ferguson


And


Hi again,

 

The car is already at the shipping company in Orlando, Florida sealed and ready for the shipping. 

I have a contract with eBay so this deal must go through them. I’m very busy with my job and I’m getting off the town so I can’t meet 

in person with you so this is the reason why I chose to sell my car over the internet. According with  the eBay you have 5 days 

from the time you receive the car to inspect it and decide if you want to keep it or not.

Here is how it will work:

1.First of all I will need  the following details from you:

– Full Name

– Full Shipping Address

– Phone #

2. After I will receive the details from you, I will forward them to eBay.

3. After they will process your info, they will send us both invoices. The invoice will send you the details on how to make a refundable payment.

4. eBay will contact me and I will ship the car to you. After you receive the car you will have 5 days to test, verify and do whatever you need with the car. 

If you will buy, then I will receive the payment details from eBay so that I can pick up the money.

5. If you will decide that you will not buy the car,  eBay will refund the money and I will have the shipping company come pick up my car.

If you wish to make the transaction, please send me the necessary info so  we can proceed. I look forward to hear from you.

 

Thank you


For the Honda –


Hi,
First of all i want to thank you for your interest in my vehicle.
I am selling this vehicle because I am being dispatched to the Gulf of Aden and i must sell it before Jun 4th.
The vehicle is in perfect condition, it has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects.I must add it was never involved in any accidents and has a clear, clean title
The car is in Billings MT area and in case it gets sold I will take care of shipping.
Let me know if you are interested, email back.
2008 Honda Accord Price $3400
VIN:  1hgcs12838a025823
Mileage:  36,401 miles
Body type:  Coupe Engine:  4 Cylinder 2.4 Liter Exterior color:  Red
Transmission:  Automatic Fuel type:  Gasoline Interior color:  Black


And


Hello,
Thanks for your reply.
As i told you i am stuck here in the military company and i have restrictions in communicating due to the medical and physical exams that i have to complete.
The vehicle will arrive with a military cargo so that is why i can offer free shipping.
I am a member of the eBay buyer protection program and using this service you will get a 3 days testing period after delivery. During those 3 days of testing period I will not be
getting any money. I need to know if you are interested so I can ask eBay to send you the details on this deal. If interested please include in your next email your contact info for
eBay, full name and  shipping address so we can proceed.
Hope we will do business together.

Best Regards,

 

Robin Faller


Note that although these ads were placed in the “Central New Jersey” Craigslist community, each vehicle is in a distant location and in the possession of some type of shipping or holding company.  In each instance, there is a compelling reason given for the surprisingly low asking price (military reasons seem to predominate).  All of the responses are sent from an email address bearing a female name (presumably, they know less about autos and would sell one for less than half its true value).  All of these sellers indicate that they will bear shipping costs for delivery and, if necessary, return of their vehicles (scammers do have their generous side).  And, the signature similarity of all of these responses is that they purport to use some type of eBay buyer protection service.  While eBay does offer certain protections, there are numerous conditions and exclusions, and it offers no such services as described in these correspondences.


If you do provide the information that these scammers are seeking, I surmise that you would be contacted by someone falsely representing himself as a representative of eBay to facilitate transfer of the purchase amount and assure you that no funds will be distributed to the seller until you have received and had the opportunity to fully inspect and test the vehicle.  How long you would await delivery of your automobile before realizing you had been scammed and contacting law enforcement (who would be unable to assist you) would vary depending upon your individual level of gullibility (from incredibly gullible to unconscious).


Needless to say, the old adage that “if something appears too good to be true, it probably is” has once again proven accurate.  If you are a used car shopper, save yourself the aggravation and deal only with reliable sources of online information.





This post was written by:

- who has written 408 posts on Write On New Jersey.


Contact the author

333 Responses to “Auto Buyers: Beware the Craigslist Used Car Scam!”

  1. lyn says:

    Hi,

    Another scam email from Rosa the oceanographer re a jeep I mailed about, thought the price was too good to be true and when i got the email I knew aomethigng was up, thanks for the article and comments all, email she used was Rosa.Casey2004@gmail.com

    I’ve received your email regarding the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with 67,000 miles on it,The engine:4.7L 8 Cylinder,Transmission: Automatic,Fuel:Gasoline.VIN # 1J8HR58N15C613796 .Comes Well-equipped Several Upgraded Options: Premium Sound System with AM/FM Stereo Multi CD Changer featuring Satellite Radio, Navigation, Power Adjustable-Heated Front Seats, Power Moon-roof, Integrated phone, Rear Entertainment System with Rear-seat DVD Player, Parking Assist, Chrome wheels, and more. The suv is still for sale and my asking price is $3.350. It is a 2005 model loaded with everything. The suv is very well maintained and it has just been completely serviced. The engine runs very good and the automatic transmission shifts perfectly.The suv is in perfect condition with clear title,no accidents, no liens or loans. I’m an oceanographer and I’m on sea at this moment, so I left the suv in Edgewater MD, at the shipping company, it’s already packed and waiting to be shipped anywhere.

    Here are some pictures with the suv : http://s1050.photobucket.com/albums/s410/weq1231/Jeep/

    Let me know if you are still interested.

    Regards,
    Rosa Casey

  2. tim diesel says:

    Rosa is back at it with a 2005 jeep grand Cherokee, however her car is packed and ready for shipment in edgewater Maryland. She’s moves too much to trust…..that’s just a scientific fact.

  3. zelma stokes says:

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  4. smiley says:

    Hi,

    I’ve received your email regarding the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with 67,000 miles on it,Transmission:Automatic, 4.7L 8 Cylinder Gasoline Fuel.VIN # 1J8HR58N15C613796 .Comes Well-equipped Several Upgraded Options: Premium Sound System with AM/FM Stereo Multi CD Changer featuring Satellite Radio, Navigation, Power Adjustable-Heated Front Seats, Power Moon-roof, Integrated phone, Rear Entertainment System with Rear-seat DVD Player, Parking Assist, Chrome wheels, and more. The suv is still for sale and my asking price is $3.350. It is a 2005 model loaded with everything. The suv is very well maintained and it has just been completely serviced. The engine runs very good and the automatic transmission shifts perfectly.The suv is in perfect condition with clear title,no accidents, no liens or loans.
    I’m an oceanographer and I’m on sea at this moment, so I left the suv in Edgewater MD, at the shipping company, it’s already packed and waiting to be shipped anywhere.

    Here are some pictures with the suv :
    http://s1050.photobucket.com/albums/s410/weq1231/Jeep/

    Let me know if you are still interested.

    Regards,
    Rachel Zacher

  5. Smiley says:

    Here is more corresondance today – I hope no one falls for this scam!

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 9:28 AM

    Hi again,

    The transaction will be done through Amazon Payments and it will be fully insured by them. If you want to buy it please email me your complete name, phone number and delivery address for shipping so I can initiate the transaction through Amazon Payments. After that they will contact you with all necessary information about this transaction(terms,buyer protection,payment instructions,invoice,etc.)

    Thank you

    ——————————————————————————–
    Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2012 06:42:43 -0700
    From:
    Subject: Re: Re : 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee
    To: rachel.zacher@hotmail.com

    So there is an extended warranty? Great – that was one of my husbands questions. He will be transfering funds today and should have access to it Monday morning. What time zone are you on? We are pacific.

    From: Rachel Zacher
    To:
    Sent: Saturday, August 4, 2012 3:51 AM
    Subject: RE: Re : 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Hi again,

    The price for the car is $3,350 with shipping included,it will take no more than 2-3 days for the car to arrive at your address. The car it’s in perfect condition, there’s not even a scratch or any dents on it.I want to mention that the vehicle was inspected by the shipping mechanics and fulfils the MD Emission standards from all the 50 states so it wouldn’t be a problem for you to register it. You will receive the car along with all the documents including title, bill of sale, 2 set of keys, full service records and more. I asked them to allow viewers to go there and inspect the car but their reply was “We are not a showroom!” In this case,I will offer a 5-day period to inspect the car from the moment you receive it. You’ll have 5 days to inspect, test and drive the car before decided to keep it or not. If the vehicle is not like I described, you’ll ship it back on my expense and they will give you a full refund.Amazon Payments will hold the funds until you receive the car with all the papers work. Only after you confirm them that you wanna keep the car they will release me the funds. In this way, you will be able to inspect the vehicle before committing to buy it.If you agree with these terms and you have the money, send me your complete name, delivery address and phone number to register you as my buyer.And also you’ll receive all the transaction details from them (terms, buyer protection coverage, payment instructions, invoice for the purchase). Let me know!

    Regards,

    Rachel Zacher

  6. Buck says:

    Seriously – 90% of the ads I’m finding on craigslist and other classified websites are scams. Is there no way to facilitate an investigation/prosecution for fraud?

  7. Sissy says:

    Hi again,

    The price for the jeep is $2,400 with shipping included,it will take no more than 2-3 days for the jeep to arrive at your address. The jeep it’s in perfect condition, there’s not even a scratch or any dents on it. I want to mention that this vehicle was already inspected and fulfills the Emission standards from all the 50 states so it wouldn’t be a problem for you to register it. You will receive the jeep along with all the documents including title, bill of sale, 2 set of keys, full service records and more. I asked them to allow viewers to go there and inspect the jeep but their reply was “We are not a showroom!” In this case, I will offer a 5-day period to inspect the jeep from the moment you receive it. You’ll have 5 days to inspect, test and drive it before decided to keep it or not. If this jeep is not like I described, you’ll ship it back on my expense and they will give you a full refund. Amazon Payments will hold the funds until you receive the jeep with all the papers work. Only after you confirm them that you wanna keep it they will release me the funds. In this way, you will be able to inspect the car before committing to buy it.If you agree with these terms and you have the money, send me your complete name, delivery address and phone number to register you as my buyer. And also you’ll receive all the transaction details from them (terms, buyer protection coverage, payment instructions, invoice for the purchase). Let me know!

    Regards,
    Annie Mustang

  8. christie holland says:

    Thanks for the warning.

  9. carver says:

    Thank you so much for providing a warning individuals who might fall for this scam.

  10. AndyS says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for your email concerning my vehicle
    2008 Ford Edge Limited, 20870 km. It has a clear title and it is in perfect working condition, non smoker..
    My final price on it is CAD $14,000
    I just got divorced and I decided to move (along with my daughter) closer to my parents. Right now I’m located in Valencia, Spain and the vehicle is stored in South Carolina.. The car was awarded to me in our divorce. Being a single mother I decided to sell it. I am not in a position that allows me to travel and because i wish to sell it as fast and easy as possible i decided that the best way to let it go was online. I am not interested in taking a trade in with me to the dealership because I knew that would be a hassle. Don’t get me wrong but I would prefer to secure the deal through eBay.I believe this protects both buyer and seller and it’s the right way to do this. Also because the car will be shipped from US to Canada I prefer to work with a third party in order to keep the both of us safe in this deal. I will be assured you will buy the vehicle and you will be assured that you will receive it! Basically the money will be sent to them and they will keep it until you will receive the vehicle and only after you will inspect and drive it they will forward the funds to me.
     
    If  you like to receive more information about the car,more details about the  deal and hopefully if you want to continue please contact me.
    Thank you for your time,

    Emily

  11. Darren says:

    Hello to all, because I am really keen on reading this web site’s posts and updates. It carries very valuable information like this warning to those shopping used cars on Craigslist.

  12. Eli Manning says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

  13. Kristen says:

    Thanks! I’ll be very cautious before transacting any business via Craigslist.

  14. Alicia Neumann says:

    I think every one is getting alot from this article. Beware the ads on Craigslist.

  15. Kent says:

    Anyone knows how the scammers take your money? Do they insist using a fake escrow site? Or how do they ask for payment?

  16. Heike says:

    I’ve learned a lot from this article. Thanks.

  17. alfred says:

    Thanks for sharing this. A must read article!!!

  18. Clark says:

    Spot on with this write-up, thanks for the info!

  19. robert fernandez says:

    Hello! I am sharing this information with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of people that should be aware of this. Thanks

  20. Lauren says:

    I just got this in response to a request for more info on Craigslist from Kevin Inman …

    Hi,

    The vehicle is well maintained, never been damaged and it has 78,360 miles, a clear title, 3.5L V6 PFI SOHC engine and is loaded with options. You will inspect it before the payment will be made, I moved to Williston, ND with my job and I have the vehicle here with me. The shipping and insurance are included in the price because I won a promotion at uShip(1 free shipping). You will also receive all the papers(title, bill of sale etc) in order to finalize the purchase with the vehicle. Email me back if you are interested and have further questions..I would like to handle the sale using eBay for our own protection as
    they act as a neutral third part. eBay will keep the money until you
    inspect the vehicle.

    This is how the eBay works:

    1. I will contact eBay and give all the info about this deal.
    2. They will email us the forms by email – about the buyer’s protection
    policy, delivery, and payment.
    3. You will send a 50% deposit to eBay and they will notify me to ship
    the vehicle to your location.The shipping will take 5 days.
    4. After you will inspect the vehicle and decide to keep it, eBay will
    forward me the funds and the deal is done.

    You have 5 days to test it from the day you receive it. If by any chance
    you won’t be satisfied with it you will be fully refunded and I will
    have the shipping company come to pick it up. If you wish to purchase it
    please provide me your full name, address so I can initiate the deal
    through eBay.
    Good faith has always been my top priority and my most valued business
    approach.

    Looking forward to hear from you!

  21. kidd says:

    My 1st contact email was the following:

    Hello,

    Is this truck still available? if so i can meet you @ the NBSC bank
    Monday morning and exchange title for $2217

    {Her RESPONSE}

    Alexandra alebrid@gmail.com

    Hello,

    My name is Alexandra, and I’m emailing you about the 2002
    Toyota Tacoma w/ SR5 I have for sale. The vehicle is in
    perfect condition, with no need for any additional repairs,
    flawless condition, no dents and no mechanical problems.
    It has never been involved in any accidents. It has 79,000 miles,
    automatic transmission, with an 6 Cylinder 3.4 Liter engine
    and all the extras included. This is my personal vehicle,
    title in my name/hand and there are no liens or loans on it.
    The price was reduced at $2,217 (including shipping and handling costs)because I’m in a hurry to find a buyer. I need to sell the truck this month before the 20th, when I will be leaving with my medical team back to Afghanistan.There’s no use on keeping it.If you have any other questions, or need more info, please feel free to ask.

    Here is some pics:

    http://www.use.com/1070519e89b301e88305

    I look forward hearing from you

    My Next Response:

    hello,

    Don’t need it shipped, I’m closed to the Columbia, SC area,
    you did say it was a 4×4? Give me a time to meet you at the
    NBSC on 5456 Sunset Boulevard in Lexington, SC. I will exchange
    money for vehicle, title, and a bill of sale! I can drop you off
    at your place of residence once the deal is done or pay for a cab!

    Her Finale Response

    Hello,

    As I’ve previously told you my medical team will deploy back to
    Afghanistan. Right now I’m in a military base of Oregon National Guard.I am only allowed to check my e-mail. We have to stick to e-mail for now. Hope you can understand. The car is here with me at the base and the delivery process will be managed by me. I think I can have it there at your home address in 72 hours. It will come with a clear title and reg. I am a member of the Google Checkout protection program and using this service you will get a 5 days testing period after delivery. During that 5 days testing period I will not be getting any money. I need to know if you are interested so I can ask Google to send you the details on this deal. If interested please include in your next email your contact info for Google (full name, shipping address and phone number), so we can get the ball rolling.

    This is Such A Scam!!!!!

  22. Joni says:

    My husband was about to send 2,500 over to some guy who ” is being deployed”
    I decided to google info on military shipping vehicles …found your article omg I couldn’t stop him fast enough !!! Thank you soooo much!! My husband would have been in the dog house.

  23. Aisha says:

    I am not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.

    Thanks for the fantastic information.

  24. adam heinz says:

    Scams are constantly perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. People like you do a public service in providing a warning. I want to encourage that you continue your great work, have a nice
    morning!

  25. TicaTeepelo says:

    I thought the process of buying a car was going quite smoothly until I read this article. Now, I fear that I have been scammed.

  26. arlene alexander says:

    I liked tҺis blog so much I will subscribe to it! Please add additional to
    this weblog right here. I would prefеr to find out far mοre.

    ConsiԀerably appreciated!

  27. Maira says:

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it.

  28. Neville says:

    Hi there to everybody, it’s my first pay a visit to this website and I’ll be returning for more after reading this article warning auto buyers.

  29. Danna says:

    This seems on the up and up but it got my radar up and after a few internet searches it seems to be a scam. Too nice of a car to sell for $1450.

    Hello,

    First of all I want to thank you for your interest in my 2006 Toyota Corolla. The car has been extremely well maintained with a full service history, it has only 61,800 miles! Transmission is automatic. The vehicle has all of its original floor mats, all books, complete set of tools and keys. Everything works in the car lights, gauges, radio, windows, locks, a/c blows ice cold, etc. It has no leaks or drips and does not smoke at all, slightly used in 100% working and looking conditions with a clear title free of liens.

    I bought it when I was serving in U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, Jacksonville, FL and now I am deployed in Athens, Greece. The car will be delivered from Jacksonville, FL, it is stored in a military compound.

    I have dropped my price to $1,450 (purchase price) including delivery and handling to your address, since this is an urgent sale, it will be delivered free of charge through a military transportation service to a designated location of your choice, average delivery time is 3-5 business days, depending on destination. It has been reduced because I need to find a buyer before my upcoming deployment take place and I don’t want to waste more time negotiating.

    If you’re interested to conclude this purchase in a timely manner please email me your: full name, shipping address and phone number, to open a case with Military Circle Program. They will contact you to explain the entire procedure. The financial part will be managed by them, which means that you will have a 15 days inspection period before committing to buy the car. Using Military Circle Program service we are both 100% covered during the steps of this transaction.

    To support my argument regarding the condition of the car please visit the following photo album: http://imgur.com/a/ssBhq

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Sgt. Laura Robinson
    USMC ANG 118 AMXS

  30. Consuela Posicionar says:

    I was reading about this topic elsewhere, but yours is the most comprehensive and best presentation I have seen.

  31. Charlotte says:

    It’s actually a very useful piece of information. I’m glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date on this subject. Thanks for sharing.

  32. April Boatwright says:

    I was suggested this website by my cousin. This article was incredible! Thanks!

  33. Alyce Crow says:

    I read this post completely, it’s remarkable article.


Leave a Reply

Site Sponsors

Site Sponsors

Site Sponsors