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)
Copyright 1995-2014 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the eBay User Agreement and Privacy Policy.
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,,,,, and www.craig’ 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

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 and 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.’





More on buying a used car, for cheap

Didn’t really get any pictures for this particular week’s blog, but will next week.Okay, this searching for the perfect used car for my son has taken on epic proportions of lies, fraud, scams, more lies, more scams, exaggeration, poor judgment, and time wasted. Well, maybe not time wasted because I have learned a lot about buying a good used car.

With new car prices approaching the price of homes, and sometime exceeding them, a good used car can be a good way to save money on transportation. Us 50 year-olds and up have to consider ways to reduce our expenses, unless you’re rich. I’m not and wish I were. But that’s a whole different subject.

I have generally had a good experience buying a used car. In past posts of this blog I have explained my last purchase that I flew to Florida to get; an ’05 Lincoln Aviator with 43,000 miles. I can drive this gorgeous SUV AWD V8 that is fully loaded, to include a DVD player for the back rows, for years and go well over 200,000 miles. The best part is it only cost $12,000 and is a great luxurious ride.

The search for my son’s car is trickier because there is a smaller budget (he has to pay half) that has been busted several times. The first was a $1000 piece of junk from a relative that we luckily got out of. The second budget moved to $2000 and was an incredible deal on that turned out to be a scam. There are used cars that looked okay for under $2000, but not for an SUV that would last my son next year through his senior year of high school and last at least a year or two of his dream job since he was 5 years-old; The US Marines. Yes, he goes in right after graduation in June, 2015.

So, the budget moved up to $2500. Most were high mileage (150,000+) and most had rust. I saw a ’98 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition that had only 64,000 miles. But it had rust. How does a car with only 64,000 miles on it get rust? I had numerous Ford Explorers and drove each over 225k miles; none had rust when I sold it or traded it in. My thoughts are that I received more lies; no way does a designer SUV get rust at 64,000 miles, even in the snowy salty, pot-holed roads of North East Ohio. I’ve become too savvy a buyer to fall for lies.

So now what do I do? I’m taking the advise of a friend in Florida. In Florida, retirees sell well-maintained cars and SUV’s with low miles that have absolutely no rust. So, I’m cashing in some American Airlines miles and I’m heading to Florida this Thursday. I have done a lot of research on used cars down there, that are available right now, and there are about ten cars that I’m going to look at. Then I’ll buy one of them, cash right on the spot, then head north. I will drive the car back to Cleveland and hopefully I will have made a good used car decision so I don’t break down getting home. Next week; what I bought and my final conclusions on buying a used car.





Buying a used car

Trying to find a used car under $2500 is easy. Trying to find a decent reliable used car under $2500 is not easy. Almost impossible.  My search for a good used car for my son has revealed a few things about buying a used car. One fact, is that any car under $2500 is under suspicion. I have searched through thousands of cars listed on online websites and have some conclusions about the cars and the people that are selling them.

I have been lied to so many times by these used car sellers, that I’m getting very skeptical about anything these people tell me. Even the pictures can be very misleading. Descriptions that say, “good running, starts well and awesome,” are not necessarily true. In fact, they could be wild exaggerations. Go figure. I will try to give you my honest opinion on searching for and buying a used car.

I will start with my experience a few years ago when I wanted a Lincoln Aviator with low miles. Aviators were only built for a few years, 2003-2006, and looks just like a Lincoln Navigator, only it’s the size of a Ford Explorer, with a lot of improvements and with even more ‘bells and whistles.’ I drive on business sometimes as much as 3000-4000 miles in a month on Interstates through every kind of weather condition and road conditions there are. I had a ’03 Aviator that I put 225,000 tough miles on and liked it so well, that I bought another one. But it took a long time to find one that fit my finicky requirements.

I went to several Lincoln dealers to look, but most didn’t have any used Aviators on the lot and the ones that did had a very large price tag or a lot more miles on it than I was willing to accept. This Aviator I was looking for needed to have under 50,000 miles for me to be interested. I figured this car would last me the same 225,000 miles and if I bought it right, I wouldn’t have to spend over $14,000.

I searched on Craig’,,, and a few others I found on the Internet. I looked through at least 3500 cars because I widened my search to over 1500 miles away. Now the choices expanded a lot. I pretty much drew the line at the Mississippi River, but if I had the extra time, it wouldn’t be a bad deal to drive all the way across the country. Yet, if the car didn’t match up to what was advertised, it would have been hard to get a cheap flight home, not to mention the potential of a broken down car in the middle of nowhere.


On, I found an ’05 Aviator with only 43,000 miles in Florida. Not only that, but there was another ’05 Aviator just 30 miles away with 58,000 miles, just in case the other deal went bad. I made the deal with the dealer for $12,000, $2000 under my max price, crossed my fingers and got a cheap three-leg flight and flew down. It turned out perfect because the car was beautiful, other than the tires looked to have maybe another 5000 miles on them. I bought the car, spent some time visiting with friends in Florida, then drove it home. All in all, it was a good experience.

If you read my blog last week, I was in the middle of a search for a car for my son, and had three terrible attempts; One was a relatives car that was about to blow a head gasket, a scam deal on that tried to pry my money away by posing as eBay motors, and then there was a bid on eBay for a “good running condition Acura” that turned into a trip to Jacksonville, Florida to buy a that turned out to be a beaten up piece of crap.

So now what do I do? Well, I went back over all the steps I had learned, and started at the beginning. First I went to relatives and friends asking one more time if anybody had a good car to sell. Nothing, but one guy told me it’s a bad idea buying a car from a relative. I told my story and he just laughed.

My search this time had some differences because now I was looking for a $2500 or less car. New car dealers don’t typically handle these cars because they have high mileage, so they usually wholesale these cars and wholesale dealers need to make a profit on a small sale. That’s why I thought first of buying from an individual seller instead. Somebody’s ‘cream puff.’

So, the next step was searching through the ‘owner/seller’ list on and it came up with a lot of cars, but I needed to see even more. So I expanded my search on to bigger towns that were only a few hours drive, and would have a good selection. I found a number of cars and have emailed many of them. Nobody has emailed back today, but sometime I don’t check my emails everyday. Well, that’s not true either because I do check it everyday.

So, during the wait to hear back, I went on and as well as checked the classified section of our local newspaper. I searched through thousands more cars. Interesting tactic, because I got a good feeling for the car my son should get and the price we would pay for a dependable one. I emailed to a lot of potential sellers asking for more information, but it’s Sunday night and no response so far.

It’s now Monday afternoon, way past my posting deadline, and I have only received two responses thus far, and one of them is a three hour drive. So the tedious search goes on for a reliable used car, only now I have raised the spending limit to around $2200 in order to get a reliable used car, despite my son only contributing $750. Hopefully, next week he will have his first, ‘Dream Machine.’ Tune in, because it will happen soon.