Tips for Avoiding Car Buying Scams


We are seeing an alarming increase in the number of car buying scams. At CarsArrive we are interested in making sure you actually 'get' the vehicle you are purchasing because we want to transport it to you! There are a number of scams being run that usually involve one or many of the following characteristics. Here are some tips to help you spot a scam.

The vehicle is priced just under $5,000 even though it is worth much more

When the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don't take a chance! Scammers can get often away with your money because the FBI typically doesn't investigate and prosecute fraud schemes under $5,000. In many cases, the scammer is using photos of a car they don't own that has been harvested from a legitimate car seller. If you are unable to physically view the vehicle prior to purchase, ask the "seller" for additional photos and be specific. If the "seller" can't provide the additional photos, it's likely because the car isn't their's to sell and is not in their possession. 

The seller tells you the car is stored at a CarsArrive facility

Scammers use this tactic for a couple of reasons. First, it allows them to avoid giving you a physical address for the location of the vehicle. Second, it gives them a reason why you can't come see the car or why they can't provide additional photos. CarsArrive does not store unsold vehicles at any of our service center locations. It is best for you to see the vehicle for yourself or have someone you trust inspect it for you. But if you still decide to proceed, protect yourself by asking for the name and address of the facility. If that info is provided, look up the phone number for the facility yourself (don't use a phone number provided by the seller). Then, call the facility and ask to speak with a manager or owner to confirm that the car is on their lot. 

The seller asks you to send payment to an eBay agent, to CarsArrive, or via an untraceable method

This scam often involves the scammer claiming they are selling the car on behalf of a military family member who is deployed overseas. There is usually a sense of urgency that the family member needs the money quickly and a request to wire it via Western Union or similar service. This is red flag. You should never wire funds to someone you don't directly know as there is virtually no recourse to getting your money back. EBay does not have employees, agents, or representatives who collect payment on behalf of a seller and CarsArrive does not accept payment for anything but our services directly related to auto transport. Always use a reliable and traceable source when paying for your vehicle. The safest bet is to use an escrow service where the monies are held by a third party until the buyer authorizes a release of funds.


Hopefully some of these tips will help you avoid getting ripped off, but common sense is ultimately your best friend. If someone is selling a car worth $20K for $4K, recognize the red flag. If someone is unwilling or unable to prove that the vehicle is in their possession and legally their's to sell, recognize the red flag. If someone is pressuring you to send funds via a non-existent or untraceable payment service, recognize the red flag.   

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