Unfortunately, auto sale scams on Craigslist are making headlines again, so we felt it was important to revisit some tips on how to spot some of the most common red flags when it comes to Craigslist auto listings.
Unusually Low Pricing
While this is one of the most common ways of luring in desperate buyers, it works. Scammers will list an above-average condition vehicle at a price that is significantly lower that other vehicles of the same make, model and year. Once the buyer is hooked, they’ll often partner this low-listing scam with an overpayment scam or a request for a deposit wired direct through MoneyGram or WesternUnion.
Listings from Another Country
Again, these listings will usually have a very sound price, but with a seller who is located overseas. Often times the lister will also pair this reasonable price with an offer of free shipping from their home country. This is a GIANT red flag as overseas shipping can easily cost thousands of dollars by the time taxes and customs fees are added to the shipping cost itself.
Look for Mentions of eBay and Other Supposed Guarantors
Craigslist has yet to partner with another ecommerce company like eBay or ClassicCars.com. However, this has not stopped scammers from trying to waylay the fears of potential victims by using the names of these reputable companies. Should you come across an ad that claims eBay or another site has guaranteed the purchase, or will cover potential losses in any way, walk away. The only listings companies like eBay may cover or offer protection for are the listings on their own websites.
Inability to Provide Photos
Most ads on Craigslist will provide some sort of image of the car, but it’s a good idea to ask for additional photos. Many scammers will simply pull photos from listings on a legitimate website and pass them off as their own. If the lister is unable to provide additional photos, or claims to not have physical access to the vehicle to verify any inquiries you’ll want to be very cautious if you choose to proceed at all.
Protect Yourself and Your Finances
When you’re buying or selling items online, one of the easiest ways to keep yourself from falling victim to any type of scam is to use an online escrow service. Online escrow companies like PaySAFE act as a neutral third party between a buyer and seller who are relative unknowns to each other. Buyers are protected as all purchase funds are held securely in escrow until the seller has provided proof that the item has shipped, or it has already arrived. Sellers are equally protected as all purchase funds are verified in advance – completely removing the risk of insufficient funds, fraudulent checks or credit card chargebacks.