Detecting An Internet Car Buying Scam
What are car buying scams?
Car buying scams have been around since the 1980's. Since online auto classifieds have become the way to sell a used vehicle today, scammers have begun trying to take full advantage. These scams typically involve a buyer (typically from another country) contacting a seller and offering payment in return for the shipment of the vehicle. The payment ends up being counterfiet and the seller winds up losing money, their vehicle, and sometimes more.
What are some of the most common scams?
One of the most common scams involves a cashiers check made out for more than the price of the vehicle for sale.
Here is how it works:
1. Sellers are contacted via email about their vehicle. Typically by an overseas prospect who will need the vehcile shipped and can only pay by cashiers check.
2. As negotiations proceed, the buyer states that the cashiers check will be in an amount significantly greater than that of the price of the vehicle. The seller must simply cash the check and personally reimburse the buyer for the overage.
3. After both sides agree, the seller receives the cashiers check and takes it to the bank to cash it. The bank cashes the check and everything appears to be fine.
4. The seller then mails the reimbursement check to the buyer and arranges shipment of the vehicle to the buyer.
5. A week or so later the bank phones the seller and informs them that the cashiers check is counterfeit. The seller is then obligated by law to reimburse the bank.
6. The outcome potentially leaves the seller out of a vehicle, money and sometimes more.
Warning signs of a car buying scam:
- Overseas prospects representing third parties
- Cashiers check payment for more than asking price
- Additional items to be purchased & shipped
- Any seller reimbursement of funds to buyer
- Additional money for rapid delivery of vehicle
Note: The information above does not imply that all buyers from outside the U.S. are attempting to commit a fraudulent transaction. We make our customers aware of the most common scam tactics to help them make a more informed selling decision.
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