A Smithfield man was looking on the internet last week for a used car and saw a Facebook Marketplace ad that caught his eye. A used Infiniti X35 which should be selling for $15,000 was advertised for only $2,500.
The 22 year-old victim contacted the seller who claimed the car was on a military base in Nebraska but they could arrange shipping to North Carolina. The victim was told to pay with five $500 gift cards. After giving the person the card numbers he never heard from the again. He soon realized he had been scammed.
According to the FBI, online vehicle sales fraud is big business for criminals. Often times the vehicles offered for sale are not, nor have ever been, in their possession. The fake ads often explain the urgency of the transaction is due to them moving, being deployed by the military, going through a divorce, or they received the vehicle from a relative who has died.
You should avoid sellers who refuse to meet in person and those who refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase. And if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
An estimated 5 percent of all cars listed for sale by owners in internet ads priced under $12,000 are scams.