I just wrote that I would not write about eBay anymore and here I am, compelled to do so...
Fortunately, this is really not a story that will be seen as bashing eBay because it is just not something that the giant of over regulation and useless rules has any control over.
It seems con artists, inspired by eBay's (Good?) name have adopted a new tactic to scam people of hard earned money.
and here is the kicker....
Scammers are advertising on Craigslist and claiming to be connected with eBay!
Amazing as it sounds, it is true, the story goes something like this...
You (i.e. the aforementioned earner of difficult to gain money) see an auto for sale on Craigslist, posted in an advertisement in your local area. The car is the model you want, the price is unbelievable and you contact the seller to be first on the deal. - Normal life of a Craigslist buyer (I can attest to this as I am an active Craigslist buyer and seller).
The "seller" then replies to your email (you should set up a dummy email address for any dealings through Craigslist - by the way), and provides you with a very detailed story about how the car is not currently in your city, it is actually across the country (or in another Country) but it will be shipped to your city very soon. The seller is leaving the country, but , and here is the really stupid part of the scam...
Sample Reply email
Subject: Re: ford f-150 supercrew - $10200 (phoenix)
From: "Hickman Bobby, Tech Sgt." firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your interest in my car.This is a 2005 FORD F150 SUPERCREW
4x4, 8 Cylinder 5.4 Liter, Gasoline engine,Automatic Transmission,Non-Smoker,clean title!! The car has only 24,000 miles on it,VIN# is : 1FTPW14515FB48400 .
Here you can find more pictures of the car:
http://s597.photobucket.com/albums/t58/fordfordsalfo150/sample of photobucketlink
(if the above link does not work copy and paste it into a new web browser
The car has been well taken care of, always kept in the garage.Flawless exterior/interior condition,no scratches and no dents.It has never been involved in an accident.The engine starts and drives like new and the paint looks great.It comes with US clear title which will be signed and notorized in the buyer's name. Have all keys and manuals.
I'm an US Air Force Tech. Sgt. currently stationed in Germany.The car is here with me. It was bought in the US and shipped to Europe, but it was never permanently registered here, the car is still registered in the US. The car is for sale locally as well, but there are slim chances of this to happen. In order to be able to register this car here in Germany the buyer would have to pay very high import/custom taxes that will double the price. So I decided to sell the car back in the US.
The price is $10,200.00 including shipping from Germany to the US and delivery to your home address.
So if you decide to buy this car or need further information please get back to me as soon as possible.
Somewhere along the line in the email exchange the seller will tell you that eBay Trust and Safety or eBay Buyer Protection will be holding your money for 30 days after you receive the car, to make sure that you are happy with the transaction and to protect you from a scam.
The payment will be made through eBay. I'm under Contract with eBay which states that we can close the deal using their service.Very Important, Only after you will receive the car, eBay will release the money to me.
The money will be sent per ebay instruction and you will give the payment details only to eBay. They will verify the payment and when the money are confirmed they will notify me to proceed with the shipping process. After you receive and see that the car is the one you want, you just notify eBay to give me the money.
In order to start the deal I need YOUR FULL NAME and SHIPPING ADDRESS so I can register the transaction with eBay. They will let you know what you have to do for the payment.
Ok kids - why would anyone consider this as a valid story? I certainly cannot say, but I have gotten several calls in the last week from potential buyers, asking me if they should send money to eBay?
NO - eBay is not an escrow service for Craigslist!
Lets all get our thinking caps on and reconsider the old addage....
If it seems too good to be true... Yes, it probably is not true!
Variations are certainly a part of the con such as:
- The seller is a US service person immediately shipping to Afghanistan or Iraq and they need to leave money for their family, the car will be shipped via the US Air Force to you for free.
- The seller needs money for emergency surgery, this is why the car is listed for less than half the price of any comparable car.
Of course you can be assured that if you do send your money to "eBay" (This will look like an eBay address, but will not be an eBay account or address) you will never ever see that money again, and you will never see the car you thought you bought.
People may be quick to say that eBay should do something about this, and maybe they could try, but really this is just a real buyer beware situation. At some point people must realize that scammers and thieves have been around much longer than Internet commerce. Craigslist and eBay are relative newcomers to the game and they can not be held responsible if some artful thief with a very incredible story convinces you that he/she is backed by either party, because they are certainly not.
This scam could also encompass more than automobiles, so keep your radar active! In all cases when dealing with Craigslist buying you must see the merchandise and/or be reasonably assured that you are dealing with a reputable company or party.