Dollars and Sense - Craigslist Car Scam

A Kalispell man nearly gets taken for $10,000 due to a Craigslist scam.

The Better Business Bureau says is an all-too-common scam.

So many of us use Craigslist to buy and sell things for which we used to rely on the local want-ads.

But the Internet provides the perfect cover for the perfect scam.

Jim Wright loves his Jeep, but says he needs a second work truck, so he headed to the Internet.

"I was on Craigslist just looking for a new truck,” says Jim Wright.

He found a truck located in Washington State and emailed the apparent owner

"He had pictures,” says Jim. “Didn’t appear like anything at first to be suspicious."

But that's when things got weird.

“He was getting deployed to Afghanistan,” says Jim.  “And therefore he was under some security clearance and couldn't talk directly and that's the first red flag."

"And this had every sign that it was a scam,” says Dan Buchta with the Better Business Bureau. “It’s textbook."

Buchta says the fact that the seller provided pictures often gives a false sense of security to the buyer.

"Usually these scammers are overseas,” says Buchta. “They’re just cutting and pasting pictures off the internet from other car sales in other states and putting it up there as if it's new.  And that's what this guy's doing."

Jim suggested that he send his father, who lives near where the seller said the truck was, to look at the truck and pay for it in-person.  But the seller insisted on Jim wiring the funds to an eBay escrow service.

"His claim was that it was a neutral part of eBay and it was safe,” says Jim.  “And they had an email come to me from what appeared to be from eBay with a form to fill out that appeared to be very official eBay."

"You never want to use any kind of pre-paid card or wire money,” says Buchta.

Luckily, Jim trusted his instincts and backed out of the deal.

"I’m grateful that I wasn't scammed on and the most important thing I was thinking was that we could prevent this from happening to someone else."

A little good karma, for helping someone else avoids a car scam.

The Better Business Bureau suggests never buy something sight unseen from a private party over the internet, unless you're willing to lose your money.

And if you pay with a check or credit card, you still have a chance to cancel your payment.

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