Buyer beware: How scammers are using online used car ads to cash in
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2018 6:00AM PDT
When Ricardo Bennett was searching online for an SUV to buy, he was thrilled to find a deal. A 2007 Honda CRV with 96,000 kilometres on it was selling for $2,600.
"I contacted the seller through email," said Bennett.
The seller told Bennett she was out of the province and needed the money fast to help her family. She would look after the shipping of the car and asked Bennett to make a down payment of $1,000 through eBay Motors, using a bitcoin machine.
"I deposited the money they asked for using eBay Motors, now we wait," he said.
But when the seller contacted Bennett again and said he needed to send another $500 worth of bitcoin to secure the sale, he grew suspicious. He refused to send the funds and the emails stopped.
"That was the last time I heard from them,' he said.
When CTV News contacted eBay Motors the company responded, "criminals often exploit well-known, trusted brand names like eBay to attract consumers and then lure them onto fake websites and into fraudulent transactions."
Fraudulent activity can be quite common with online used car sales. A scammer may make up reasons why they can't meet in person, maybe they're serving in the military, they've been transferred to another country by their employer, or they're taking care of a sick relative.
To avoid online car scams, beware if a vehicle is advertised well below its worth or if the seller refuses to meet in person. Another sign is if they claim not to be in the province or country or if they request funds by wire transfer or bitcoin.
Bennett still needs a vehicle and now he has $1,000 less to pay for one.
"I felt ripped off, to lose $1,000 to these people," he said.