Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
With used cars in high demand, look out for too-good-to-be-true prices.
Used cars are in high demand, and scammers know it. Con artists are taking advantage of shoppers who turn to online platforms in search of a reasonably priced used vehicle. Be wary of this latest twist and too-good-to-be-true prices.
How the scam works
You are shopping for a used vehicle on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or another online platform. You find the make and model you want at an excellent price.
However, when you contact the seller, you find out that the vehicle is in another city. Fortunately, the seller knows a transport company that can deliver it to you. All you need to do is pay the transport company, which will hold the funds in escrow until the vehicle is delivered. Many scammers will add a sad story meant to tug on your heartstrings. For example, they may claim the car belonged to a relative who has passed away.
In one recent BBB Scam Tracker report, the scammer claimed to be selling a car on behalf of their aunt, who inherited it from her recently deceased father. In this example, the scammer claimed the potential buyers email had fallen into their junk folder. The scammer stated they had moved to another province thousands of miles away, but if they wanted to purchase the car at the given price, they had a contract with an automotive transport company. The selling price was well under the going price for a vehicle of this type, year and mileage.
Once you have paid the third-party company, usually by a wire transfer or prepaid debit card, your vehicle won’t be delivered. The sale was a scam, and the con artist was in cahoots with the third-party transport company. Unfortunately, your money is gone for good.
How to avoid used car scams
Watch out for prices that are too good to be true. It is probably a scam. Scammers know that used cars are in high demand, and they will tempt shoppers with great deals.
Contact the seller by phone. As early as possible, speak to the seller on the phone and ask plenty of questions. If you get very vague answers, if the seller gets defensive or aggressive, or if they cannot confirm their location or the location of the vehicle, you are probably dealing with a scammer.
See the car before you buy it. Always make an in-person inspection and take a test drive before you purchase a vehicle.
Don’t give in to threats or pressure. Resist the urge to act immediately. Always take time to consider a purchase, especially if it is a vehicle that costs thousands of dollars.
Don’t wire funds for a car. Scammers often ask for wired funds because they are hard to track, and there is no way to get your money back. It is best to make large purchases by check or credit card.
For more information
You may also want to read the BBB Tips on buying a used car at go.bbb.org/usedcar. If you have spotted a scam (whether or not you have lost money), report it to BBB.org/scamtracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Learn how to spot a scam at BBB.org/SpotAScam.
For BBB information
Visit BBB.org or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media, and more!