7 Scams To Watch Out For When Buying a Car on Craigslist

by AutoInsuranceQuotes.org Staff Writer on June 20, 2012

If you’re looking to purchase your next vehicle online, watch out for scammers. Craigslist.org is an extremely useful site, but the platform sometimes sees the seedy underbelly of the Internet rear its ugly head. And you could be out some serious money. Many people have been taken advantage of due to e-commerce, and we want you to buy a car online safely. Trust your intuition, do your homework, and watch out for these seven common scams.

  1. The eBay Transaction Services Scam

    EBay Transaction Services does not exist. The ads on Craigslist look legitimate, and are usually fairly priced older vehicles. The “seller” often tells the person they’re about to scam that they’d like to insure the car’s purchase through this fictional service. Word to the wise? Don’t wire anyone money if you haven’t seen the product.

  2. The Classic Car Scam

    One of the most common ways to scam people is through the promise of a “classic” car. If you respond to an ad for one of these beauties, watch out for an email from the seller explaining an overseas move. The “seller” (read: scammer) will insist on an escrow service, and you’ll be out the purchase money with no car to show for it. Refuse to close any transactions before putting your eye on the vehicle.

  3. The $3,600 Honda Scam

    This scam was busted wide open, and is similar to the eBay Transaction Services Scam. The “seller” wanted the buyer to purchase a car off of Craigslist through the eBay Vehicle Purchase Program. Although the name sounds legitimate, the “seller” attempted to pressure the “buyer” (a known scam-buster) into a quick purchase. If someone is inciting you to immediate action and continually asks for your payment details and personal information, there’s probably something amiss.

  4. The Non-Existent Car Scam

    One scam-buster found an advertisement with vague pictures of a non-existent Honda Accord. The list price was fair, but there were some suspicious looking elements to the ad. Don’t get scammed because you don’t do your research; if an ad looks sketchy, it probably is.

  5. The Lemon Scam

    Even if you buy a car from a legitimate seller, make sure that you run a vehicle history report. One man bought a Ford Ranger for $4,500, and thought he had received a great deal. On the drive home from the purchase, a service light came on. Just miles later, the buyer’s new car completely broke down. He received no help from the seller (“All sales are final”), and had to spend thousands on repairs.

  6. The Fake Check Scam

    Sometimes the buyers bite back, and come up with scams of their own. In a common Craiglist scam, buyers will send a legitimate-looking check or money order for an amount higher than the selling price. Once they “realize” their mistake, they’ll ask to be sent or wired the extra money. During this time, they will also arrange to have the car picked up, but they’ll never do it in person. Your car and your money can be gone in a flash. Sellers! Watch out for these bogus buyers.

  7. The No-Test-Drive Scam

    If you’re buying a car on Craigslist, make sure that you can put your eyes on it before you hand over your dough. And better than that, make sure to take your future car for a test drive. Many people have been scammed by buying bogus cars with faulty titles and vehicle histories, and you don’t want to be among the bunch. Better safe than sorry, as you don’t want to end up a cautionary tale.

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