Car Selling Scams

Car selling scam emails are popping up like flys.

They happen right under people’s noses without them ever realizing it. From the western union scams to the katrina scam, prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Lets go through some of the many scams out there.

1. Nigerian email scams
These Nigerian scams have been spamming up people’s email accounts like crazy for a long time now. Time, and time again I get hit with these ridiculous emails. I can see them coming a mile away. If you’ve posted adds on craigslist, you’ve probably seen this before. In this example, someone wants to buy your car sight unseen. It may look like this:

Hello ,Thanks for your mail back concerning the inquiry mail i sent to you. The price,condition also the pics i viewed is okay by me .And my client confirm there is no problem about the price($1500 ) ,my client do pays with a {USA}cashier check,he has agreed to mail out as bank cashiers check of $4000. to you on my behalf to cover the shippment fees.About the shippment, that we be taken care by my me & my personal assistant,my personal assistant will be using his shipper to do the quick processing of the shipping of the(1991 Honda Civic) to my client.So all you are to do after you will received the check in your mail, Just take out your sale amount and refer the remaining money to my shipper immediately through the westernunion or the money gramm outlet so to get the money fast and start the fast arrangement for the pickup of the (1991 Honda Civic).Since you are the original owner of this item,and i am buying the item directly from you i will like you to write your full name to be on the check,with the mailing address which my client will be using to issued out the check to you.I do wish to trust you by refering the rest balance back to my shipper and also your fast doing to this transaction.I will like to hear fromyou if this is okay by you and you are ready to process ,if you aready to sale your item and promise refering the rest balance to my shipper immediately you received the check so can start the quick arrangement for the pickup. Any body that want to buy this item this item just tell therm that it as been sold. I will like to copmplete this transaction befor the new year. I be at my computer waiting to see your epky to my payment method mailed.THANKS AND MAIL ME BACK WITH YOUR DETAIL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

You can spot these car selling scams by the way they’re written. Most of these types of scams have the same writing style. If you see an email like this, report it as junk, or a phishing scam. In one of these car selling scams, your being asked to take out the sale amount for the car, and send the rest to a third party, shipping company, assistant etc. These scams typically involve someone contacting you from outside the country. Your offered a cashier’s check for a much larger amount than your asking price for the vehicle. The check scammers are “trusting” you with sending the remaining balance to the third party via a money transfer service like Western Union. With these car selling scams scammer sends out a cashier’s check that looks authentic, but is actually fake. What they’re hoping, is that you think the fake check is real. Then, they want you to wire your money to their third party. After you wire them the money, you go to the deposit the check, and it doesn’t clear. Your held liable for the phony check, and the money you wired is gone. Verify the check with the bank that issued it before you send any money, especially with a transaction done over the internet.

Here is another similar one I got recently

Sounds great,am very happy to purchase the Car and make your payment today,please send me your information such as Name,Address,City,State,Code and Phone # for me to make payment for your Car today,I will love to handle the shipment myself via my company shipper that is currently in US BAY area,I will make your payment via CASHIER CHECK, the check will take 2-3days before you can receive it, so when you received the check kindly proceed to any Cashing Point or your Bank or any Bank Of America that is close to you to get the check cash. I will wait for you to confirm and clear the check.The payment will be in excess as i will want you to contact my shipper with the excess fund for shipping the Car after you must have confirmed and cashed the check.i will wait for your bank to clear the check so you can deduct your own money and send the excess fund to the shipper via MONEY GRAM so as to cover the cost of shipping the Car from your placeto it’s destination. Is that okay by you?
Get back to me asap.
Thanks and God Bless.

I love it how they say “God Bless.
If it seems to good to be true, it most likely is!

2. EBAY Auction Fraud

Fraud on EBAY has been on the rise. Be careful when bidding. Make sure to check the sellers feedback history as a buyer, and a seller. Try to contact the seller before you bid on the item. Watch for deals that are too good to be true. Watch out for emails sent from EBAY. Scammers duplicate the EBAY templates, and request for you to fill in your personal information such as their credit card number, social security number, or account password. They call these “Spoof Emails” because they fake the appearance of EBAY. Some ways you can spot spoof emails are:

  • EBAY requesting you update your account information.
  • Greetings which aren’t personally directed to a particular individual like “hello seller”
  • Threats like your account will be terminated if you don’t update your information.
  • Forged email addresses.

Never provide personal information in an email
If you think you entered your information into a fake site, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. Change your EBAY account password frequently to prevent access to your account. Make your password a difficult one to copy. One with plenty of different numbers, and letters.

3. Katrina Scam
When a vehicle has been flooded, and submerged in water it’s branded with a salvage title by insurance companies, and written off as a total loss. More than 200,000 cars were flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and salvaged. A salvaged title vehicle can be re registered in certain states with a clean title. Scammers are taking these Katrina Cars to different states, and registering them, concealing the salvage status of the vehicle. Protect yourself from hidden problems. Check for water damage when inspecting a vehicle. Check for a mildew smell inside the car, and the trunk. Look for water in the spare tire well. Check for water damage, and corroded metal parts under the seats, and the carpet. Not all buyers have a problem with driving salvage vehicles as long as they know up front. It’s when they find out later that it’s a problem. Some people don’t mind driving salvage vehicles because they can get something much newer with low miles for way cheaper. It’s hard to tell that a lot of salvaged cars were ever salvaged to begin with. Your hot date doesn’t know your driving her around in a salvaged corvette, and you got it for half the price!

4. Concealing Salvage Titles

Some common car selling scams are concealing salvage titles by giving the buyer a duplicate title instead of the original. I myself have fallen victim to these car selling scams. Honest sellers will use duplicate titles when they can’t find the original. Don’t buy the car just yet if the seller doesn’t have the original title. Without the original title you have no way of knowing if the car has a salvage title or not. You also don’t know if the seller is the actual owner,unless they show you a copy of the registration. If a car has a salvage title, it will be branded “Salvaged” inside the rectangle on upper right-hand corner of the title.

5. Odometer Fraud

Plenty of vehicles have odometer failure, and the true mileage is unknown. Scammers can also remove odometers easily out of the instrument cluster, and roll them back. Digital odometer can also be tampered with. Digital odometers were introduced to reduce odometer tampering. Scammers are clever and quickly learned how to tamper the digital odometers. When I buy cars at dealer auctions, the auctioneer announces if the true mileage is unknown on a vehicle. Many dishonest dealers don’t disclose this to their customers. You can also look through past maintenance records, if any, to check the accuracy of the mileage stated on the odometer.

Typical car selling scams concealing vehicle problems

Some car selling scams involve muffling engine noise by draining the oil, and adding 50 weight heavy motor oil with Lucas oil stabilizer. The vehicle has to be driven for a little while to muffle the noise but most of the time it works. Ironically very clean oil isn’t always a good sign so watch out.

6. Auction Selling Scams

Auction Scam A.
Many scammers will temporarily have the check engine light turned off. Anybody can temporarily turn off a check engine light with an OBD1 or OBD2 scanner. These are diagnostic tools used by mechanics. These tools are used so mechanics can find out what’s wrong with your car when the check engine light comes on. You can turn the check engine light off temporarily with these tools so you won’t be able to see it on the instrument cluster when the vehicle is going through the auction block. The light will pop back on after some driving along with any other lights temporarily turned off like the SRS or ABS light. If you have your own OBD scanner, you can detect if a check engine light has been temporarily turned off. You can also temporarily turn off check engine light’s buy disconnecting the battery on some vehicles. These car selling scams are typical at dealer auto auction.

Another way to see if the check engine light has been tampered with is turn the key so the battery comes on, but don’t crank the engine. Make sure all the instrument cluster lights come on (check engine, abs, airbags). If one of them doesn’t, its either been disconnected or the light bulb burnt out. I once fell victim to this scam at an auction. Car selling scams go even deeper than that. Some scammers will remove the dash, and cover the warning light with black paint.

Auction Scam B.– Sabotaging The Car

Some dealers will sabotage a vehicle before it runs through the auction block in hopes of getting it cheaper. What they’ll do is pull one of the spark plug wires from the distributor cap. When this happens the car isn’t running on all its cylinders. As it’s going through the auction block it’s shaking and seems like there’s some serious engine damage. The dealer who sabotaged the vehicle is hoping to get the car cheaper this way. It happens all the time, and if someone gets caught doing it there are some serious consequences.