Tip's on Avoiding Dangerous
Scams When Selling a Vehicle Online.
As the owner of Trusted Regina, I have gained a level of skepticism much higher than most mere mortals. I frequently examine businesses to see if they are trustworthy and look for red flags as part of what we do on a daily basis. So it would come as no surprise that I would utilize this superpower to ensure that I am not having the proverbial wool pulled over my eyes.
Recently I listed my
Harley Davidson for sale. I carefully gathered the information, mileage,
maintenance on the vehicle and any extras that I had added to the bike.
Took great images and prepared to sell. I decided on two places to post
to the world what a wonderful specimen my bike was in hopes that a savvy buyer
would love and appreciate it as much as I have. I then took it to the masses and posted it on Kijiji and
This wasn't the
first motorcycle I had placed for sale online so I knew that scammers would
likely pop up as I have experienced in the past. Within ten minutes of posting the first
one came in, it was pretty easily identifiable as a scam. The second one, however, was much more interesting... But we will get to that later, for now, let's
address the first one.
Enter Scammer #1
Paul Martins - Deployed overseas PayPal Scam
Paul contacted me
through your advert and from what I have seen it's priced favourably compared to
others so I want you to consider it sold to me because I am ready to buy it for
the asking price and Presently I am out of town on duty in a remote area. Our
phones have been disabled from voice calls as making phone calls is against the
code of ethics of my job Military. I work in the army services civil contractor
for the D.O.D field artillery unit and won’t be back until November 30th, otherwise I
would have called you.
So,I am ready to
seal the deal right away and pay you via my PayPal account that is attached to
my bank account as it is the only secure form of payment that I have access to
So, kindly get back to me with your full name and PayPal email address
and your cell phone number along with your final asking price so that I can
initiate the payment immediately. If you don't have a PayPal account, it is
absolutely free to set one up, kindly visit www.paypal.com. A shipper will be
hired that will come for the pick-up upon the completion of the payment aspect
of the transaction. Let me have the requested details to proceed with the
payment if we have a deal.TY "
Let's break it
down, Paul has access to the internet and initially contacted me via text from
a 615 area code... Nashville Tennessee USA, I am in Canada. If Paul was an
active serving member as he claims he would be allowed to use cell phones
for an hour or two per day in barracks, enforced not by the military itself,
but by specialized subscriptions from telecoms providers, so he wouldn't have been able to text me from his "disabled" phone in the first place. Also a little common sence works here: If a service member is lucky enough to have his personal phone and send a text while deployed overseas he certainly isn't using it to text me about a Motorcycle he can't ride until after November. I know my bike is amazing but it isn't that amazing!
Paul is trying
to portray himself as someone I can trust, he has put himself in a role that is meant to instantly reduce
your level of skepticism after all Service members are trustworthy
Paul goes further
He is going to give me the full asking price and send me the money via PayPal... a
secure source of payments right. In addition, Paul has conveniently given
me the link to start up a PayPal account just in case I didn't have one.
He is also going to hire a shipper to come and pick up the bike. Paul has
red flags everywhere.
A scammer, posing
as a buyer, will fail to negotiate. They may ask a few standard questions to
appear to be a legitimate buyer, but this is a facade. Most buyers will ask
very specific questions. The “immediate offer” is a classic scamming
tactic. Of course, it’s never ideal to settle for less than your asking
But a buyer that doesn’t even attempt to negotiate or ask questions is
most likely a scammer.
The PayPal detail
is important. Paul has likely sent me a "fake link"
that sends me to a website that looks identical to PayPal but it is not!
Now if I had entered in all of my details to this fake website Paul would have
all of my information: Name, Address, Credit card information and so on;
essentially all of the stuff I don't want Paul to have.
The other trick Paul
may be attempting here is that the PayPal site and information is accurate however when Paul pay's
me he is going to overpay me. The “overpay” scam has several variations. In
this one, the scammer will offer to pay you via PayPal or a similar service.
Then, they will claim they accidentally overpaid you. The scammer will forward
you a fake PayPal confirmation email as proof of payment, then ask you to wire
them back the amount they overpaid. The trick is that they never paid you in
the first place. But you actually paid them when you send them the “difference”
Enter Scammer #2
Richard - VIN SEARCH SCAM ALERT
Richard sent me a
text asking if the vehicle was still for sale and other normal buyer
- How long have you had it?
- Can I come by tomorrow at 2 pm to see it?
- Can you provide me with a Motor Vehicle Report?
an out of province number but that is not overly alarming in and of
itself. So I replied sure 2 pm works and sent him a VIN search from SGI showing
that it was free and clear of any accidents.
Richard wasn't ok with the SGI VIN
search and insisted that I run the VIN on a website he sent
For me, this was a reg flag so I figured I would have
a look. I check out the website where it asks me to pay $26.00 to run a
VIN number via credit card. Sadly for Richard I'm cheap and had already
run a clear VIN search for him and was unwilling to pay the $26.00 however I
offered to reduce the amount of the search if he purchased the bike.
Richard then started to get aggressive and said
"I want it ran on registeryourvin, I don’t
At this point, I had figured out that Richard was a scammer, but I
wanted to see where he would go with it. I decided to offer a compromise. I suggested to Richard that I run a VIN search on Carfax or a site of MY choosing. I told him that people
are scamming sellers in this exact way and, dear Richard, I don't trust people
either. Richards reply was short:
I want registeryourvin report!
Sorry Richard I am
NOT going to give you my name, address and credit card information so that you
can steal from me.
The point is even if a buyer initially seems legitimate, at some point you need to trust your judgment even if something small appears strange. It's not strange for a buyer to request a VIN search. In fact, I initially thought that this made him a serious buyer. But his insistence on where this VIN was run was what set off my alarm bells. Here are some tips to look for when avoiding these types of scams.
Here are some tips
to avoid being scammed when selling online.
#1 - Guard
your personal information. Never enter your personal or credit card
information on a website a potential buyer has sent you! It may appear real but
in all likelihood, it is NOT and they want to steal your money, identification
#2 - Profile the
buyer. If your buyer is legit — and reasonable — the sale will flow
smoothly. Exchanging text messages about buying a used car is normal
these days, but push for a quick phone chat. As you talk with the potential
buyer, pay attention to your intuition. If the buyer makes any unusual requests
or if anything makes you uncomfortable, just wait for another buyer.
#3 - Never accept
an offer to Ship the Bike/Car - This is a common scam anyone asking you or
offering to ship an automobile is likely a scam and should be avoided. Even if
they claim they are so “busy”, they’ll most likely insist you ship the bike.
They’ll pay will a stolen credit card or send you a fake PayPal payment
#4 - Don't be overeager. A real buyer will likely ask you questions about your vehicle and
make you an offer that is below your asking price.
#5 - Don’t let
emotions cloud your judgment. Some scammers will have a sob story or try
and play on your heartstrings to convince you of their scam. Think of it
as a business transaction and nothing else.
If all else fails take your vehicle to a dealership or reputable Auto dealer and sell the vehicle to them.
At Trusted Regina we share all kinds of tips to protect our community; we aim to ensure you have some peace of mind and information to help you.