I’ve been writing in my blog about my search for a good used car for my son, who’s a senior in high school. This is the third and final chapter on this subject (thankfully).
BUT FIRST – I have to address this CRAIG’S LIST/EBAY SCAM ALERT: Craig’s list has a used car scam that is hitting the entire country. It’s not the doing of Craig’s List, but some piece of crap loser has come up with a scam on Craig’s List to steal your hard earned money from any town, and send it to this human piece of manure (can I say shit?). There may be more than one scam and may come from some group/gang, but here’s how this scam works.
You’ve been looking for a good used car and respond to an ad on Craig’s List by owner, for a car that is perfect for you and at a price that you can’t believe; a one-owner creampuff. It seems like it is ‘too good to be true.’ It is, but you need a car and send an email inquiry hoping for the best. An email comes back to you from a woman (yeah, sure) with a hard-luck story. It’s either, “My husband died and I’m moving with the kids,” My husband left me and I want to just get rid of the car because it reminds me of him,” or “I’m in the military and about to be shipped to Japan (or wherever) next week and really need to sell this car.” If their sales pitch comes with a hard luck story, beware.
Then, they say the car is in a different town far away in a warehouse ready to be shipped to you. They want the deal to go through ‘eBay Motors’ because it’s safe and you have 7 days to inspect the car and if you don’t like the deal, you get your money back. Then another email comes from what looks to be eBay Motors (including eBay logos and pictures of the car and description like a car dealer, to look real) explaining what you have to do. They want you to go buy some MoneyPaks from a drugstore and load them with cash: thousands of dollars of cash. Then you give eBay Motors the scratched off numbers on the cards to make the money transfer. DON’T DO IT!!!!
HERE’S THE BOGUS INVOICE – It’s long, but look at how legit it looks. People get fooled by it. Article continues after you see the work of this POS:
eBay sent this message to Ron Lundmark Your invoice for eBay Buyer Protection Purchase – 2004 GMC Yukon Denali AWD
Invoice for eBay Buyer Protection Transaction Case ID 6P28D654V43 between Erica Armstrong, the Seller and Ron Lundmark as the Buyer. Please follow our instructions to complete the transaction safely. eBay’s got you covered. Your purchases are now covered by eBay Buyer Protection Program.
Seller: Erica Armstrong Address: 31 Joshua Dr Ramsey, NJ 07446
How to make the payment; To complete the transaction you must send the payment via MoneyPak Service.
Once you bought the MoneyPak, ask the cashier to load them with cash and Reply us the following details from the MoneyPak:
MoneyPak Number and Debit Load for each MoneyPak card and scanned copy off the back of your MoneyPaks. NOTE: You can add only up to $1,000.00 onto a MoneyPak card, so buy as many cards as you need to complete your payment for item purchased.
Fax the MoneyPak payment receipt to eBay Financing Center Department at: +1 (206)-426-7263
For security reasons please DO NOT release the payment details to the Seller or any other unauthorized person.
Case ID: Mileage: 121,925 *Note: Payment must be made within the next 48 hours. 1 $2,000.00 Inspected YES $0,00
*Please check the details for an accurate delivery in order to avoid delays
Payment must be submitted via MoneyPak to eBay Financing Center. We will secure the payment until the Buyer receives, inspects and accepts the vehicle. Or, if it will be the case, eBay will refund the payment to the Buyer.
* All the transaction details, payment and personal information are confidential and will not be released under any circumstances.
* eBay Buyer Protection program security measures are constantly reviewed and modified given evolving circumstances globally.
* Our main and constant priority is the safety of our customers.
Go with cash or debit card to any provided store and pick up a MoneyPak from the Prepaid Product Section or Green Dot display and take it to the register. The cashier will collect your cash and load it onto the MoneyPak. It costs $4.95 or less. There are no hidden fees or charges. Just purchase your MoneyPak, use cash to fund it and you’re ready to go. Once you bought the MoneyPak and loaded the debit:
– reply us the MoneyPak Number (14 Digits Number off the back of your MoneyPaks) – send the scanned copy of your payment receipts by fax or email and a scanned copy off the back of your Moneypaks, where we can see the
MoneyPak Numbers, so we can add them to the files and validate your payment.
Note: Please be very careful to buy Green Dot MoneyPak, and not Green Dot Prepaid Credit Cards ! It is very important !
You can add up to $1,000.00 onto a MoneyPak card so buy as many MoneyPaks as you need to complete your payment for item purchased. (Ex: If you buy a vehicle that costs $2,500.00, you must buy two MoneyPaks loaded with $1,000.00 and another one loaded with $500 and so on). When payment is received, it will be verified and secured into a non-interest bearing trust account. Payment verification process usually takes less than 24 hours. After payment is secured, the Seller is authorized to ship the vehicle. The Seller has 24 hours to send the Buyer and eBay Financing Center Department the tracking number of the shipment. If no tracking number is provided, a full refund is immediately sent to the Buyer. The Buyer receives the vehicle and has 10 days to inspect it. If it is complete and as described, the Buyer should accept the vehicle. If he refuses the vehicle, the Buyer must ship the vehicle back to the Seller within 10 days. After the inspection period is over, the Buyer must contact eBay Financing Center Department with the result of the inspection. If the Buyer refuses the vehicle, the refund will be sent to the Buyer after the tracking number for the returned shipment is verified. If the vehicle is accepted, eBay submits the payment directly to the Seller within 3 business days.
Purchase protection and refund: The eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) is a subsidiary of eBay Inc., dedicated to insuring safe and honest transaction between online buyers and sellers, especially for deals involving large amounts of money. Each of our seller clients is required to open a Purchase Protection Account (PPA) which is managed by VPP department. The amount of the account provides protection up to $50,000 against certain losses associated with some types of fraud.
When a seller initiates a transaction with his/her corresponding buyer, VPP checks the seller’s PPA and, if it’s value is equal or greater than the transaction price, automatically locks it for a period of 90 days from the day the transaction was started.
Conditions to be met before you may ask for a refund:
1) If the item doesn’t get to its destination after the payment is received; 2) If the merchandise you receive doesn’t fits its description; 3) If your merchandise arrives in a much longer period than the one you agreed on (more than 3-5 business days from the payment clearance day);
For situations 2) and 3) you have to send back the merchandise to the seller prior to ask for your refund. Seller will pay the shipping to receive it back also.
Notice that each of the transaction has a method of payment which is selected by the eBay Buyer Purchase Protection, taking into account the seller’s location and background check. The selected method of payment is always the one which offers the most reliable protection against fraud. Please, be advised that if you did not pay the seller by payment method required by us, your refund request will be declined.
If you need answers to your questions, just reply to this email !
Best Regards, eBay Customer Support (Trust and Safety Department)
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? If you do, you are exactly the kind of person they want to steal from.
I checked with eBay and they confirmed the part about a 7 day return policy if bought on eBay. But here is the nitty-gritty – IT’S NOT THE REAL EBAY MOTORS! They add something like, “Y&R eBay Motors” for their email address. Ebay does not do business that way. I called eBay and they confirmed that this is a scam. Absolute fraud. I got a hold of Craig’s list and they took the scam off their listing. But I found another scam just like it when I looked at Craig’s List from a different town. Then, when I went to Florida, I found another scam just like the other scams. This is either a punk or a gang of fools who are hitting every Craig’s List in the country! These pieces of human trash are targeting people looking for a car around $2000, which are people who saved their hard earned money and these cold-hearted morons just want to steal it away. Human garbage.
Should you shop on Craig’s List? I did, but you have to look at every ad very closely and be vigilant for Scams. I contacted Craig’s List and they don’t really monitor anything or any ad. I guess that’s why there are a lot of weird things that have happened with Craig’s List. Hey, Craig’s List is free and they don’t have the resources to monitor every listing, you have to do your own research on who (whom?) you are buying from. That’s why Craig’s List has a FRAUD WARNING at the beginning of their home page. Here’s how my search went and how your search might go:
Let’s say that you want a good used car for your teen son/daughter, wife or yourself…or whoever (whomever?). You do all the groundwork and analyze what your needs are, the budget, and you go on line searching for the perfect ‘cream-puff.’ You over-analyze by finding out what the resale values are per brand and the reliability factor, then readjust your search to fit your slim budget. You think you are on the right track.
Then you start going through all the sites for used cars like, www.autotrader.com, www.cars.com, www.usedcars.com, www.carguru.com, and www.craig’slist.com. Those are the big on-line sites. Then you can cruise through your local dealer’s inventory. I didn’t do this that much because of my budget on this particular car; new car dealers can’t make enough money on a cheap used car to bother with. They usually call in a wholesale dealer to take those cars off their hands. So now, if your budget is under $4000, you have to do things you should do, like asking all your friends and relatives if they know of a good, well taken care of, used car. No? Then it’s time find used cars from some private owners, or search the inventory of all of the small used car dealers for your ‘diamond in the rough.’
On Craig’s list, if you only want to search for ‘used cars by owner,’ you can click that. If you want ‘dealers only,’ you can click that as well as a button for both. On many instances I called a private owner, only to find out that it is a small used car dealer. When you ask them, they respond that the car you called on was his, ‘personal’ car. Yeah.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have purchased things on Craig’s list with no problems. The car I bought for myself, a low-mileage Lincoln Aviator, cost $12000 and it’s definitely worth it. A year and a half later, and I feel that I got a good deal. But this search was for a much cheaper used car to get my son through his senior year of High School and a few years in the US Marines. The budget for this car grew from $1000 to $3500 very quickly. I decided to look in Florida for a car without rust, while on a business trip. I flew one-way free by cashing in some airline frequent flier miles, and hoped I’d find a car and drive it home.
My search took me all over the Sarasota/Bradenton/Venice area and I had good food, music and fun with some old friends that live there. Thanks to my friend, Rod, I was able to search for a car and if I found one, I could pick him up and go back for the car. So, he lent me his fairly new Hyundai Sonata (nice ride). The search was harder than I thought and saw a lot of bad used cars…with no rust. Hey, $3500 and under apparently doesn’t buy you much anymore, used car wise.
On the last day, I was prepared to buy the very first car I looked at the first day because it only had 113,000 miles on it and no rust. However, at $3000 I just didn’t feel it was worth it because the car did not look or feel like it had been taken care of very well. On Sunday night at midnight, the night before I was to buy a car and drive it north to Cleveland, Ohio, I saw a new ad by a private owner for a car that, if true, would be perfect for my son. I called first thing in the morning and made an appointment to see the car.
I made one stop on the way, to a new car dealer that advertised a good-looking car that was $3990 and thought they might go down a bit. The salesperson couldn’t find it so they brought in ‘Mr. Slick’ who told me that, “he just sold that car yesterday” (despite the fact that they are closed on Sunday). He went on to smoothly say, “I’m looking in the wrong price range because of a State Law that says car dealers can tack on and extra $800 to every car as a fee. You should raise your total price to $6500 and I have a bunch of nice cars that would work.” This sounded a little phony, so I thought I’d call a friend, who is a wholesaler for a used car store in Florida.
He told me that car dealers can charge a ‘dealer’s fee…up to $800. He said only “Greedy dealers” charge as much as $800. With low price cars he can play with the price of the car and the fee, because the profit is so slim. This told me a lot about that new car dealer’s used car salesman and the dealer (assuming he likes to hire dorks).
At noon, I met the private seller at a gas station close to the seller’s home and it looked good. It’s a ’02 Jeep Liberty Sport with a V6 and 4×4, just what I was looking for, but it was $4200. I took it for a ride and it was smooth and quiet. She was honest and told me that the electric rear windows each needed a new motor and a few other very small cosmetics. That’s not a big deal and an inexpensive task. The price then lowered and reached the critical $3500. I bought it on the spot.
This was what I would call luck, based on a lot of work. Okay, an incredible amount of work and travel. Did I really do that? The only thing I didn’t try, when looking for a good used car, was auto auctions. There are auctions around, but they only sell to the public on certain days, and I didn’t know enough about it to try. Who knows? I may have found what I was looking for the first day, but there’s only so much energy that I have left. It felt good to have made a good deal on a good used car that will last for years, assuming my son takes good care of it, like his father takes care of his cars (did I somehow slip into third person? Aren’t I, him, his father?). Forget it. I got into the car and headed north on I-75.
I had to stop and see a friend in Gainesville, Florida, Chad, who invited me to stay the night and share some good authentic Cuban food; Pork roast. It was delicious, but I was worried about the air conditioner on the car because it was making a noise. My friend said, “Go see Jerry” at a local air conditioning repair shop, so I did the next morning. The air condenser needed Freon and some oil. After that, it worked fine with ice-cold air.
I had a great ride home and even stopped at the seafood place in Darien, Georgia that my kids and I stopped at on another trip. Skipper’s Fish Camp had the blackened scrimp and grits and it was delicious, once again. The car ran smooth and when I got home and my son saw it, it was in love at first sight. My long search was over and thank God.
Skipper’s Fish Camp Shrimp and Grits
Lesson’s I learned:
Many people lie about their cars for sale, especially used car salesmen. I don’t hold that against them unless it is an outright blatant case of fraud. Besides, lying is part of their job, like lawyers and politicians.
When people say their car is in ‘great shape’ they may be talking about the actual shape of the car if you drew it.
When possible, take it to a repair shop to have them inspect it (they might charge $59, but it’s worth it if you don’t know about cars).
Low mileage cars that looks rough with a lot of rust, might have more miles on it than it shows (don’t know how they would do this, but it probably still happens).
Be wary, be skeptical and ask a lot of questions. What looks good online, may not be the way the car actually looks in person. Pictures can be photo-shopped easily.
Shop all the ways you can and be persistent and picky because you don’t want to end up with someone else’s problem car.
Now, if I can only notify all the websites like cars.com and carguru.com that I already bought a car and to stop sending me ads through various news websites all the way to Facebook. They put spinning ads that distract you, with cars just like you looked for on all those websites. They keep that information and probably a whole lot of other information about you, then use it to advertise to you…then eventually sell that info to other online sales gimmicks. These websites keep sending you ads for cars you’ve been searching for, for a long time and it’s annoying.
Was it worth all the work and travel for the perfect used car with a budget of only $3500 for my 17 year-old high school senior and future US Marine? I can only tell you that yes, especially when I see the look of love in my son’s eyes… when he looks at that Jeep. I will know that I was part of the very excellent and great memory of his very first car ever. His first, ‘Dream Machine.’