SCAM Warnings


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There are a lot of scammers out there that go through internet sites like and try to scam money out of sellers of large ticket items like cars.  As a general rule, if someone wants to send you more money that the asking price and have you send the balance to somebody then it is almost certainly a scam.  A good tip that was given me recently is to Google the email address of the prospective buyer and this will often reveal if the buyer is a scammer.  Below are some of the more common scams


Nigerian Scam The scam, usually coming from someone in West Africa like Nigeria, but recently also from Europe, is to offer to buy the vehicle. What they want to do is to pay you a lot more than the asking price and ask you to pass the remaining money on to someone. They pay with a cashiers check but as it takes as much as 2 months for the bank to realize it is no good, the extra money forwarded on is long gone. People advertising on have been approached with this scam so I pass the warning along in the hope that nobody falls for it.

A variation on the Nigerian Scam is to say that they have their own shipping company to take care of shipping. They want to send you a cashiers check that is more than the value of the vehicle and ask you to wire the balance to the shipping company to take care of shipping.  Lately some of the scammers have been getting more aggressive with this scan and will send you a note saying they have wired the money via "International PayPal" even if you haven't agreed to sell them the car, and then you get an email which is supposedly from the shipper asking to send money via Western Union.  They may also get an email from the original sender demanding that the full amount be refunded, again by Western Union.


PayPal Scam The scam involves paying for the article by PayPal then, when the article ships the buyer says he never received it and PayPal refunds their money.  The only way to deal with this scam, which is especially prevalent among international buyers, is to get a tracking number from the company that ships the article so delivery of the article is recorded.  That means using a shipping company like FedEx or UPS or using recorded delivery from the USPS.


Phishing Warning Beware of requests over the email that look like they come from a bank, Paypal, or eBay that request personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers.  These are likely to be phishing expeditions that are attempting identity theft.  If in doubt contact the appropriate institution directly not through the web link provided in the email.  A new variation on this has just emerged.  You get an email that looks like it comes from the IRS and says that you are owed a refund.  They then route you to a web site to collect social security numbers etc.  The IRS never contact people via email.  I have also had reports of people responding to ads saying they will by the item then asking for lots of personal data so they can send the money so be careful if you get an email that asked for a list of personal data items


Ebay Scam warning  There is someone running a scheme on eBay where they advertise vehicles that sold recently.  The things to watch out for are offering to sell something to you now for a ridiculously low price, and wanting you to send payments to by wire transfer to some friends account in a foreign country.  Often the listing quotes a buy-it-now price but there is no buy-it-now button on the listing.  Another variation on this scam is that they will ask you to email them for bidding approval, when eBay pulls the auction, which they often do, the scammer will contact you offering to sell you the car at the buy-it-now price using eBay as an escrow company.  They will tell you to send a large part of the payment to eBay and a smaller amount directly to them.  eBay, of course, doesn't function as an escrow company, but the portion you sent to the scammer is gone.  Always ask questions when buying on eBay and pass on the deal if it doesn't feel right.  You can also contact eBay who will have the auction terminated immediately if it is not on the level.


Ebay Scam Warning There are scam artists that are contacting bidders on eBay telling them that the person who gave the winning bid on an item has backed out and your bid has been accepted.  They then ask you to send them the money and give a fake email address.  If someone contacts you in this manner please verify with the seller using the email address on the ebay listing, or contact ebay to report a suspected scam.


Ebay Scam Warning There is a scam on eBay Motors where the seller will advertise a car and quote a very low buy-in-now.  The scammer is trying to work a Trojan Horse, see Symantec warning.  Things to watch out for are low Buy-in-now but no Buy-it-Now button.  The listing will often say that unless you email them first your bid will be cancelled.  Better just to avoid these types of listings.


Western Union Scam  On this scam they will advertise an item for sale and will then ask you to pay by sending them the money via Western Union.  The goods never arrive and because it was sent by Western Union there is no way of recovering the funds.  It is much safer to use pay-pal of some other pay system for items purchased on line.  This scam is very prevalent on Craig's List. 


Report all ebay scams to ebay spoof


Email Scams in the USA can be reported at the Internet Crime Complaint Center


Email Scams originating in the UK should be reported to


There are more scams documented on