December 6, 2023

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Local woman warns of used car scam on Facebook Marketplace

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – As online car sale trends pick up, there is more opportunity for buyers to be swindled by fake sellers.

Knowing things are not always what they seem online, be cautious when buying on e-commerce sites, even if it’s a purchase you’ve made before. Unfortunately, one Nashville woman had to learn that the hard way, and she doesn’t want others to go through the same experience.

The woman, who doesn’t want to be identified, said she’s out at least $1,000 after sending money to a seller for a Toyota that never came.

“It wasn’t like a naïve stumble into a scam,” she explained to News 4. “I made them send me the Carfax, I asked a lot of questions, and I was getting back and forth from the alleged owner of this vehicle.”

She said she had purchased a car on Facebook Marketplace before. However, in that case, the owner drove it to her.

This time, the seller said in an email that her husband died, and the price is reduced because she was leaving on military duty.

The buyer wasn’t too concerned about that, thinking about companies who send cars like Carvana.

“These advertisements you see on television, on the internet, ‘buy your car online and we’ll ship it to you,’ so it seemed like it’s the new normal.”

In a second follow-up, the seller said she had prearranged the deal with eBay Services, where the buyer sends the money, the car is shipped in at least three days, and the buyer has five days to inspect the car before the money is released to the seller.

“I started noticing a lot of them had the same story behind why they were selling,” she said

Still, she moved forward with the help of her stepfather, who was paying for the Toyota.

“He said they threw me for a loop. They hit me with something I didn’t expect.”

The seller wanted an additional $1,000 for insurance on the delivery.

“He said they want me to send it to them in gift cards, and I said, ‘no woah, it’s a scam. Stop.’”

After doing our own search for a Toyota 4Runner on Facebook Marketplace, one was listed for $1,200 and located in Nashville and excellent condition. However, there is a discrepancy if it is a 2011 or a 2004 model.

Also, when you click on the seller, it shows she has over 100 Marketplace posts of this truck around the country, and she is based in Texas.

After reaching out, News 4 get an auto-reply, directing me to email someone by a different name. So, News 4 sent an email.

The response states there are no issues with the 4Runner, and she is selling it because her husband passed away two months ago, and it brings bad memories. Also, she got a new job and moved back to her hometown.

Then the same second follow-up email about paying through eBay Services comes through. SCAM.

“I can usually smell a scam, I’m not an idiot, I’m not a pushover and they really did a lot of work to prepare for this,” the woman told News 4.

The Better Business Bureau has seen similar situations with cars.

Many posts like this claim to be in the military, so people don’t think it is a red flag when the person posting the car claims he/she cannot meet in person. The BBB’s tips for buying cars online include:

  • See the car first -make sure you inspect it and test drive it
  • Don’t give into peer pressure – scammers often try to pressure you to give personal information
  • Don’t trust a seller – who says the transaction is guaranteed by eBay, Paypal, Craigslist or another online marketplace
  • Get your car’s history and investigative recalls -the vin provides an autocheck vehicle history report and allows the buyer to check the used car’s title.

These scams may date back to 2016, as this post on an eBay community page shows:

WSMV Facebook car scam 2016
WSMV Facebook car scam 2016(WSMV)

Facebook also lays out a few tips to help a car transaction from its Marketplace to go smoothly.

  • Make sure that both parties fill out and sign the bill of sale.
  • Consider purchasing the vehicle with a cashier’s check or escrow service – never wire money.
  • Make sure the seller signs the title over to you – contacts the DMV to relinquish the responsibility of the vehicle.
  • Make sure the car’s registration is up to date.
  • Ask for proof of insurance on the vehicle

This woman wants people to know her story to be more aware of what they are buying online, especially in Facebook Marketplace.

“Remind them that they should never deposit a check in their account,” she insisted. “They should never pay for anything with any kind of gift card and let them know eBay does not finance or handle the finance for anything but purchases.”

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