So far in 2016, we have received 31 inquires to our 5 offices from potential clients regarding being ripped-off by online car scams. We did not take or accept any of these cases. If we did, it would just continue the harm caused to these unsuspecting people.
Let me explain the con as “Jack” told me his story in my Los Angeles office this past week.
Jack was desperate to buy a used car. He had no transportation for work or getting his children to school. He landed on Craigslist. There he saw a 2011 Honda Civic for $1,900. That should have been his first clue that it was a con.
Accompanying the ad were four things of note.
- First, there was a link to “eBay’s Buyer Protection Program.” More on that lie later.
- Second, there were great photos of the vehicle, both inside and out, including different angles of both the interior and the body. The car looked very clean.
- Third, there was a very touching “story” wherein the seller, MaryAnne Baker, supposedly needed the money quickly to help finance chemotherapy for her 6-year-old daughter.
- Fourth, payment was to be made with eBay gift cards. Really.
Unfortunately, Jack sent the eBay gift card numbers to what he thought was part of the eBay organization. It was to “MaryAnne”, who quickly obtained the funds in the amount of $1,900.00.
The car was to be delivered to Jack at his home in Glendale, California the next day. Of course it never arrived.
Jack then called the real eBay’s Buyer Protection Program, who advised that they had no record of MaryAnne or her 2011 Honda Civic.
Jack was out $1,900 with absolutely no recourse.
Jack was out $1,900 with absolutely no recourse. (Please visit the eBay Security Center Page for further details and information.)
The Los Angeles Police Department gets dozens of such complaints and requests for help every month. In most of these cases, the perpetrators are in a foreign country. They are basically not findable and therefore are insulated from any law enforcement jurisdiction and/or arrest.
I certainly understand the fact that everyone loves to make a great deal. Maybe this post will help one person not to move forward with a transaction that has so many red flags.
If it sounds too good to be true…
Martin Investigative Services is largely in the business of often offering solutions to problems. Given we perform hundreds of surveillance jobs every year, we burn through vehicles fairly quickly.
So if you’re looking for a car, you may want to consider the following (in no particular order or preference):
- Car Max has over 100 stores throughout the country. Hassle-free with fixed prices. You can buy or sell. Salespeople are on a flat-commission basis except for those in our state of California. They have a 5-day return policy. We have never had a bad experience at any of their locations.
- Buying a used car that is “Certified Pre-Owned” (CPO) at a dealership is also a good alternative. They have good warranties and a wide selection of vehicles.
- Private parties offer a large variety of vehicles. You will get the best price, about 10-15% lower than a dealership, but no side by side comparison shopping. Most are sold without warranties and therefore they are sold “as is.” Have your mechanic check out the vehicle thoroughly before your put down your hard earned money.
Always investigate before you invest.