FAKE AD ALERT -
IF IT SEEMS
TO GOOD TO BE TRUE - IT IS
This is a note to
buyers browsing the classifieds. There is a widespread problem on the
internet where scam artists place fake ads on web sites such as this to dupe you
out of your money.
Because of our ban on free E-mail addresses for registration purposes, we have yet to have a fake ad posted here.
However, this is no guarantee that none will slip through using a free E-mail service provider we are unaware of. You may be
exposed to some so keep your guard up.
How can you protect
yourself? Without giving the scammers a lesson on how to improve their work,
simply put, the above line is true. If it seems like too good of a deal, it's a
fake ad. If there is a "story" that goes along with it, that is even more proof.
An example would be the seller is travelling in Italy and needs to sell his Camaro
in New York immediately.
If you run across
an ad you think is fake, please let me know at
The internet is a great tool for us, do not let the criminals ruin it!
2) FRAUDULENT BUYER
There is a widespread scam occurring in the world of
online classified advertising that you should be aware of. It affects the both
the big advertising sites and smaller niche sites such as this one. It is a con
artist's ploy using a ruse story where the con artist tries to get YOU to
send him a monetary difference between the item you are selling him and a large
money note he (or the friend in the scam story) sends you. Although you are able
to deposit the money note, it is indeed worthless - no funds actually there.
Meantime, they hope you honor your agreement and send off the overpayment and
perhaps whatever you are selling only to learn later on that the money note is
worthless. Bang - YOU have been taken. The story line used changes, and there
are many con artists now modeling this ploy - because it is working. UPDATE 2012: The scammers are increasingly insisting on using PayPal to pay you. However, the PayPal E-mail notices you receive indicating you have been paid are FAKE - there will be no money sent to your actual PayPal account. The scam is exactly the same, and ends up with you sending them real money via Western Union or something similar.
Please be careful - only deal with REAL money - cash, checks or bank notes that you verify funds on. Remember,
BANK DRAFTS ARE NOT AS GOOD AS CASH. Your bank will release the funds to
you usually within 48 hours BUT a fake draft can take up to four weeks (or more!)to come back to the bank - then you are on the hook for whatever amount it was!
Always call the issuing bank to confirm the draft AND wait at least four
weeks (or more)for the funds to clear. If the teller says it will clear in a couple of days - don't believe it! Remember also that a fake draft will have a fake
address and/or phone number. Check with directory assistance to confirm that the
name of the bank, address and phone number are legitimate. If it is a stolen
and forged certified cheque, you will also be on the hook for the funds once it
The best solution is to use the services of
Escrow.com - a third party escrow service. I recommend
this escrow service because it is REAL. 90% of online escrow sites are fake!
The scammers will insist on using an escrow service of their choice which itself
turns out to be fraudulent.
A recent (un-edited), example of these con artists in action is below:
I am a business man in Nigeria, i would like to have the auto has i understand
it is for sale(Chevy, Corvette), so then i will be offering you the sum of
$18000.00 for the payment,but if my offer is accepted by you,then i think i
should i will like to see some more pics of it and i also want to let you know
that i intend paying for it with a cashier's check drawn from a US bank due to
the fact that wire transfer these days is not safe for payment,so then i will
kindly wait you,as you reply soon,so we can get on with the transaction
Thank you very much as i await your reply.
MR PETER LONG. "
The first tip off is the subject line of the E-mail. In many
examples the scammers usually just copy and paste your item description
directly into the subject line of the E-mail. Second big tip off is in
regards to shipping. The scammers almost always offer to take care of
arranging shipping themselves. They will also mention paying with a
Cashier's Check or PayPal in the initial E-mail. At some point they are going to ask you to send an overpayment for your item to their shipper or another third party. This is where your real money will disappear! Suspicious E-mails may also use
all capital letters, have bad spelling, request more contact or
banking info from you, will not be concerned with the condition or price
of the car, and will probably claim to be a re-seller or agent for
someone else. If any of these things are in an
E-mail you receive you have a scammer on your hands! They will most
likely be using a free E-mail service as well. Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail are
common ones but there are many more worldwide. If you do not recognize the
domain of the E-mail (the part after the @) just copy and paste it into your
browser and go check it out. If it is a free service be very wary. UPDATE 2010: There seems to be an increase of scammers posing as someone out a sea in a boat or on an oil rig. If your potential buyer is claiming this it is definitely a scam.
Unfortunately, the scammers are getting better. Here is a
recent example I received;
Merry Christmas. I just saw the advert of your Alfa Romeo for sale and decided
to mail you and find out if it is still for sale. I would like to know your last
offering price and a photo if possible. Thanks as I await your reply.
Tip offs are the fake name (two first names - the
scammer can't come up with a good last name), slightly awkward sentences
(far to formal for an enquiry regarding a car), incorrect use of words ("last
offering price" - have you ever said that in a sentence?), he's asking for a
price and picture even though there are one or both in the ad, the E-mail it
is addressed to isn't even your own (this is the scammer sending out bulk E-mails but failing to make sure your address shows up in the "To" line), and finally, as always, they are using a
free E-mail service (sify.com in this case).
Here is an example of a "second contact" E-mail. This is what
you would get if you replied to their original enquiry;
Thanks for the mail.The price is okay by my client and i am ready to purchase
from you immediately, i will offer you $7,700.00(U.S.DOLLARS)for the 1969 Ford
Mustang and i want you to delete the ad from the website.I have a reputable
shipper in london that will take care of shipping from your end.
I want you to know that i am going to pay you with certified cashier's cheque on
my behalf and as soon as the cheque arrives,you hold out your amount and send
the difference to my shipper in london via western union for the pick up in your
place and also i will like to see the recent picture of the 1969 Ford Mustang
.I hope i can trust you with my balance and also you will be contacting my
shipper with all neccesary information needed for pick up in your place i.e the
actual weight and e xact dimension of the 1969 Ford Mustang . if this
terms are okay by you,do get back to me with the followin g details like this :
Full Name on cheque...
Do get back to me asap with this details for payment to be made out to you
Waiting to hearing from you.
I believe the request to "delete the ad from the
website" is a new development as of the summer of 2004. There are so many
scammers trying this now they are afraid that, during the scam process, you will
receive similar E-mails from other scammers which will be a tip off that
something is fishy. Having you delete the ad is the only way to prevent this for
I recommend not running your E-mail address in
your ad - just a phone number. Almost all of the scammers rely on E-mail
for their initial contact. However, if you've read this far you do have enough
info to be able to spot most of the clues in a scammer's E-mail. It is really
Please be aware of this fraud and
tell everyone you know about it, too. The internet is a wonderful tool for bring
people and cars together. Lets not let these criminals ruin it for us! Visit
Scam Victims United for even more detailed information on this