Looking for a deal on a vehicle online? Like many of have fallen victim to scam transactions, you may be surprised at the “caveat emptor” approach craigslist takes to vehicle sales through its massively popular site. However, by doing a little research and using trusted escrow and shipping (if necessary) services, you can make certain that your good deal won’t turn into a rotten one for you and your family.
The headlines and locations may change, but sadly, the stories – and outcomes – are often the same. Namely, the outcome is that by trying to find a good deal on a car online, well-intentioned individuals risk losing thousands of dollars!
Take for instance this story from Brooklyn, New York. A federal court found an individual named David Ojo, 32, guilty of numerous charges involving conspiracy, wire fraud and identification document fraud. What did Mr. Ojo do? According to reporting on the trial in the North Country Gazette, Mr. Ojo belonged to an international organized crime conspiracy, based in Romania, Bulgaria, and the United States, that defrauded victims of tens of thousands of dollars through an Internet scam. Mr. Ojo and the conspirators listed used cars for sale on websites like Craigslist and eBay. Typically, interested car buyers who inquired about the vehicles were told stories along the lines that the seller had been called to active duty in the military overseas and thus were wanting to dispose of their vehicles quickly – and of course, often at a below market price (a warning sign of a deal “too good to be true”). According to trial testimony, “The victims were promised that their purchases would be handled by an eBay or Google checkout agent, who would hold their payments in escrow until they had received the car. Once the victims agreed to buy the cars and wired payments through Western Union, they never received any cars or heard from the purported sellers again.” The conspirators had created fake driver’s licenses in at least two states that were good enough to let them claim cash at Western Union locations more than thirty times. In all, Mr. Ojo and his cronies defrauded these wanna-be car bargain hunters out of over $80,000.
* Source: “Internet Scammer Guilty Of Selling Cars Online,” North Country Gazette, August 9, 2013. http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2013/08/09/internet_scammer/
Car Buying Online
A car is typically the second largest purchase an individual or family can make – and with the recent trends in home ownership, for more and more of us, it is our largest single purchase. However, today, while the Internet has transformed the car buying experience, enabling car buyers to have more information than ever on vehicle histories, maintenance, costs, etc., criminals have also made buying and selling cars online a proposition fraught with potential peril. For individual car buyers and sellers, as well as online auction and classified sites where autos are bought and sold, it is critical that buying and selling a car be made as secure as possible.