A Johnston County woman lost money after falling victim to a used car scam. The 33 year-old Four Oaks woman said she had been looking for a vehicle on Facebook Marketplace and saw a used Toyota pickup truck for sale for only $1,800.
The victim contacted the seller who claimed they were in Louisiana and the truck belonged to her husband who was deployed and they needed to sell the vehicle as soon as possible. The victim was told to pay for the truck in eBay gift cards. After sending $1,800 in gift cards she never heard back from the individual.
Earlier this month, a 22 year-old Smithfield man was defrauded after responding to a Facebook Marketplace ad for a used Infiniti. The car was valued at $15,000 but was listed for sale for $2,500 in Nebraska. He responded to the fake ad and paid for the vehicle with five $500 gift cards.
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.