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Scam and Fraud Warnings


Scams and the Vintage Car Connection Free E-mail Service Ban

The internet is a great tool to bring cars and people together. Unfortunately, there is a sub-culture of scam artists trolling the internet looking for unsuspecting victims. They can pose as sellers and place fake ads looking for you to send them a deposit or full payment on a non-existent car. Alternately, they pose as buyers more than willing to pay your full asking price and then some for your collector car (expecting you to refund the difference). Both scams are explained further below.

These scammers are cruising the lawless world of the internet, and their vehicles of choice are free E-mail service providers such as Yahoo or Hotmail. Due to the sheer size of those operations there is little they can do about scammers abusing their service. Because of this I have enacted a total ban on free E-mail addresses for registration to the Vintage Car Connection classifieds site system. This means no one using a free E-mail service that I have blacklisted can place an ad or use the site's contact system. Currently this is Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, but more will be added as necessary.

While this may seem draconian to the thousands of people using these services legitimately, it is the only way I can restrict the ability of the scammers to use my site for their dirty dealings. I apologize if you have a Yahoo,Gmail or Hotmail account, but to use this site you will have to register using another E-mail address.

1) 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 allan@vintagecarconnection.com. The internet is a great tool for us, do not let the criminals ruin it!

2) FRAUDULENT BUYER ALERT

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 is discovered.

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:

"Good day,
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 immedaitely.
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;

"Hello,
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.
Sincerely,
John Norman"

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;

"Hello,
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 :
Home Address...
Full Name on cheque...
State...
Zipcode...
Country...
Telephone Number...
Mobilephone number...
Fax Number...
Do get back to me asap with this details for payment to be made out to you immediately.
Waiting to hearing from you.
Thanks.
KEVIN."

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 them. 

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 your choice.

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 problem.