Privately selling your used car can be risky. Here’s how to avoid possible scams


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We’re all looking for deals and when it comes to used cars and criminals know that.

Since the pandemic began, there’s been a proliferation of online scams involving used cars.

There are thousands and thousands of used cars out there, but sometimes we’d rather not buy from a dealer and instead do it ourselves online and that’s where you can get into trouble.

“If there’s a story that tries to pull at your heartstrings that’s a big red flag, said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.

And that’s exactly what happened to Bonnie Evans who was looking to buy a Jeep.

She told CBS News how she was scammed.

“She gave me this story that her husband recently died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and she couldn’t bear to look at it,” Evans said.

Then the clincher came with the price.

“She came back and said, ‘I’ll even let it go for a thousand dollars instead of two’ “

The seller even offered Evans an eBay money back guarantee.

“That looked so professional that I was like okay, well this does look legitimate,” she said.

But, the so-called seller wanted the payment in eBay gift cards and that was a red flag.

Here are some other red flags and don’ts that tell you an online deal is sketchy:

  • Never wire money or use a bank-to-bank transfer (once the money is sent, it’s gone.) 
  • Don’t buy a car from someone who is unable or unwilling to meet you face to face. 
  • Never buy a car you’ve not seen in real life and had inspected by a professional. 

The BBB said the scammers don’t just use eBay.

“It can be a number of different websites,” said Parker.

She said authorities have tracked many of these scams to overseas locations.

“It’s Romanian organized crime–not just a one-time scammer,” she said. “It’s a large operation that’s really affecting a lot of people and millions of dollars are lost to this.”

The scam doesn’t just involve automobiles. RV’s, ATV’s and even farm equipment has lent itself to this scam.

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