Shopping for a used car? Steer clear of this scam

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by Diana Zoga

KMOV.com

Posted on August 23, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 23 at 10:41 PM

(KMOV) -- Scammers are using a new twist to convince you to send them money. And it's working.

According to the FBI, around 1,600 people have complained about this scam, saying they've lost $5 million (collectively) between January and July of this year.

Here's how the scam works.

The scammer posts an ad for a used car, in good condition, priced at below the Kelly Blue Book value. The ads often appear on various sites (the FBI mentioned Craigslist). When the victim contacts the seller to show interest. The seller writes back, claiming an urgent reason for selling the car so cheaply (a family illness or they are about to be deployed overseas for a military operation).

Here's an example of a fraudulent e-mail exchange with the scammer: pages.ebay.com/motors/buy/security/FalseStoryEmail.html

It seems to make sense - especially when the seller insists on using eBay Motors Purchase Protection Plan. If a car is bought on eBay Motors' website, it's eligible for purchase protection (up to $50,000).

However, the purchase protection plan isn't legitimate unless the car is bought through eBay Motors.

To make the deal look real, the scammer rips off eBay's logo and emails an invoice to the potential buyer.

Here's an example of the fake e-mail invoice: pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/motors2/images/IMGfraud_chat_moneygram_email.jpg

The scammer goes as far as embedding a link to a "live chat" to talk to a customer service representative. The victim usually finds out, too late, that EBay had nothing to do with the sale. Once the victim wires a deposit on the car, the scammer is long gone and the car never materializes.

Read the FBI's alert here: www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/hijackers-use-false-protection-claims-to-lure-online-shoppers

Here's how eBay says you can avoid a scam:  pages.motors.ebay.com/buy/security/index.html

The rules apply to most on-line car sales. Don't send wire money to anyone you don't know. Don't send money unless you've inspected the car.

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