The Newest Used Car Scam
The last thing you want to happen when shopping for a used car for sale privately by its owner is to find yourself the victim of a scam. This article will cover relevant details of the newest used car scam as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and what you can do to protect yourself from this scam and other that swindle consumers out of millions of dollars each and every year.
FBI Reports Details on the Newest Used Car Scam
When you read the details about the newest used car scam, your initial reaction is sure to be something like this: “Who in the world would ever fall for such an obvious scam?” It’s easy to have that reaction, but the people who are perpetrating this kind of scam are obviously very good at making it very convincing. The FBI reports that this latest scam has generated nearly 27,000 complaints and has successfully robbed consumers of more than $54 million over the last several years. This scam clearly works, so it’s worth understanding how it’s done in order to protect yourself from it.
The scam begins when you see an online posting for what looks like a great used car for sale privately by owners at a price low enough to really peak your interest. The ad looks just like all the thousands of other ads you see online with photos of the vehicle, the price, a thorough description and then contact information for the seller. You respond, whether by phone or email, and the seller is willing to share additional photos and information about the car.
Of course, you want to know why the seller is offering this vehicle at such a great price. The seller explains that the low price is because they need to sell the car as quickly as possible. Any number of reasons might be offered, such as they need to relocated for a new job, to car for a sick relative, or perhaps they’re in the military and are being deployed someplace in the world. They also might say something like they received the vehicle as part of a divorce settlement or from a relative who has died and they don’t need the vehicle and just want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
Sometimes the seller may even claim they’re part of some kind of selling company and mention they’re part of a buyer protection program or offer a guarantee – all of which is pure fiction – but it makes everything seem perfectly legitimate even though it’s not. When it comes time to pay, the seller says the easiest way to handle the transaction will be for the buyer to purchase prepaid gift cards and share the card codes with the seller, who says the vehicle will be delivered to the buyer’s location in a couple days. The vehicle never arrives and the buyer is left hanging, swindled out of thousands of dollars.
Again, it’s easy to think you’d never fall for such an obvious scam, but thousands of people do, and they’ve lost millions of dollars because of it. The most important takeaway from describing the details of this newest used car scam that will help protect yourself from it is this: If a deal on a used car seems too good to be true, then that’s exactly what it is! Here are some other red flags that will help you identify sellers who are actually trying to scam you:
Seller doesn’t want to meet
If a seller has some kind of excuse for why they can’t meet you so you can see and inspect the vehicle in person, cease contact immediately.
Seller says they don’t have the vehicle right now
Any time a seller says they don’t have the car right now because it’s being shipped or for some other reason, you can bet it’s a scam.
The price is way lower than it should be
If the car described in the ad is several thousand dollars cheaper than the same or similar cars being advertised, don’t bother to inquire because it falls into the “too good to be true” category.
Seller requests an odd way to pay
When it’s time to pay for the vehicle and the seller suggests a way of paying that involves prepaid gift cards, wiring money, using Bitcoin or even an escrow service, don’t do it. It’s a sure sign that you’ll be out the money and without a vehicle to show for it.
Avoiding Other Used Car Scams
In a perfect world you wouldn’t need to worry about being victimized by a used car scam, but it happens all the time. Besides this newest used car scam, there are plenty of other classic scams that we’ve written about in this blog. Learn to protect yourself by checking out the following articles:
- Used Car Shopping Online: Common Shady Practices to Watch Out For
- Odometer Fraud
- VIN Cloning
- Safe Ways to Pay or to Accept Payment for a Used Car
The good news in all of this scamming that happens out there is that there are plenty of safe options for buying a used car. One of the best and safest in the San Diego area is to come shop for your next ride at Auto City in El Cajon. We carefully select high-quality vehicles with low miles in great condition and offer them to you at very competitive up-front pricing so you never have to haggle to get a good deal. Check out our inventory online and if you see something you like, send us a request for more information and we’ll quickly get back in touch with you so you don’t miss out on a deal that will meet your needs, including financing for all and our 3-day money-back guarantee!