There are a large number of scammers roaming the Internet - looking on auction sites and other online vehicle classifieds websites for victims. If you are considering listing your car for sale online, here or elsewhere, or are considering buying a used car from any online site, please be aware of the following and protect yourself from victimization:
1. Cashier's Checks: DO NOT accept a cashier's check from anyone until you read it and verify its authenticity with the issuing bank or financial institution. Cashier's checks are not always as good as cash and many scammers have gone to great lengths to produce counterfeit cashier's checks. How does this cashier's check scam work? There are slightly different approaches but a typical approach is:
- Someone contacts the vehicle seller and poses as a buyer or agent for a buyer.
- They negotiate a purchase price with the seller that may often be for several thousand dollars more than the advertised selling price, as they'll claim they've secured a check for the purchase that is a refund check for a vehicle loss from an Insurance company, etc.
- They send the buyer an official-looking check and ask the seller to send them back the difference or wire the difference to another party, perhaps intended for shipping costs.
- The check they sent turns out to be counterfeit, and the seller does not receive payment and they lose any additional refund money they may have supplied to the bogus buyer.
2. Escrow Fraud: Be vary wary of any potential buyer that wants to complete the transaction using an escrow service. Escrow fraud is a widley used tool to dupe unknowing sellers and steal their money. If a potential buyer asks to use an escrow online site to hold funds to complete the transaction, take a close look at how the escrow site asks you to pay. If an escrow site asks you to make a payment to an individual or agent rather than a corporate identitiy, it's a scam. A legitimate escrow service will never ask you to send your money or your product to the other party. Beware of escrow sites that use person-to-person money transfers such as Western Union and MoneyGram. Western Union is not affiliated with any escrow service. An escrow company on the up and up will ask you to wire money from your bank to their bank. They'll provide you with a routing number and account number. That said, there are legitimate escrow sites out there (like www.escrow.com) and escrow could be a viable way to help complete the transaction - just make sure you've done your due dilligence to protect yourself.
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