Used Car Scams
By Tiffany Schultz, Better Business Bureau Southwest WI Regional Director
With used cars in high demand, look out for too-good-to-be-true prices. Used cars are in high demand, and scammers know it. Con artists are taking advantage of shoppers who turn to online platforms in search of a reasonably priced used vehicle. Be wary of this latest twist and too-good-to-be-true prices.
How The Scam Works
You are shopping for a used vehicle on CraigsList, Facebook Marketplace, EBay, or another online platform, and you find the make and model you want at an excellent price. Upon contacting the seller, you’re told a sad story meant to tug on your heart strings, such as the car belonged to a relative who has passed away, and is located in another city. The seller can help you get the car to your location, and is willing to connect you with a transport company, who will hold the funds in escrow until the vehicle is delivered.
Once you pay the third-party transport company, usually by wire transfer or prepaid debit cards, your vehicle isn’t delivered. The seller is in cahoots with the transport company and this is a scam. Your money is gone for good.
How To Avoid Car Sales Scams
Watch out for prices that are too-good-to-be-true. Scammers know that used vehicles are in high demand and tempt shoppers with great deals.
Contact the seller by phone. Ask plenty of questions. If you get vague answers, the seller gets defensive or aggressive, or if they can’t confirm the location of the vehicle, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
See the car before you buy it. Always make an in-person inspection and take a test drive before purchasing.
Don’t give in to threats or pressure. Resist the urge to act immediately. Always take time to consider a purchase, especially if it’s a vehicle that costs thousands of dollars.
Don’t wire funds for a car. Scammers often ask for wired funds because they are hard to track, and there’s no way to get your money back. It’s best to make large purchases by check or credit card.
Report it. If you’ve experienced a scam, regardless if you lost money or personal information, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report helps to warn others of the scams taking place in the marketplace.