Victim Falls For Internet Car Scam

Another Johnston County resident has fallen victim to a widespread internet car scam.

It marks the third person to come forward since May saying they have lost money in the scam.

Last week, the 45 year-old woman said she was looking at used cars on CraigsList and found a 2004 Nissan Maxima listed for $1,500.  The seller pretended to be a female who was needing to sell her car quickly at a discounted price.  An excuse was given as to why the car, allegedly located in Virginia, couldn’t be seen in person.

The scam artist urged the victim to complete the transaction through a second party posing as an eBay seller, claiming it would add eBay Buyer Protection to the transaction should anything go wrong.

The victim was instructed to send three $500 gift cards to the seller but after doing so never heard from the person again.  The victim later learned everything she had been told was a lie.

Previous cases involved a Clayton resident and a Smithfield woman who thought they were buying used cars at a price thousands of dollars below wholesale.

Johnston County authorities say it is very unlikely any of the victims will get their money back.

Officers tell us the internet auto scammers will find an excuse as to why they can’t provide a mailing address, a telephone number, and for a made-up reason they always claim you can’t see the vehicle in person.  The sometimes claim the car is very far away in a warehouse or shipping container. In some cases they claim they will ship the car to you for free for your inspection.  Any type of third party escrow or bank account to keep your money safe for 5 to 10 days before deciding on the purchase is not legitimate. In this case there was no eBay Buyer Protection.

According to here are some tips to help you identify suspicious buyers or sellers with online car scams:

  • Cars are priced far below current market value.
  • The seller claims to be in the military and is stationed or going overseas.
  • The posting does not include a phone number.
  • The seller will demand that you use an online escrow service of their choice.
  • The person receiving the call is referred to as a “pickup agent.”
  • Payment must be wired to or from another country. Western Union is often requested.
  • The buyer or seller is very anxious to conclude the transaction.

Auto fraud now accounts for 12 percent of all online scams with the average consumer losing $3,700 when they fall victim.