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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2011 > Buying a car on Craigslist? Watch for scams

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Buying a car on Craigslist? Watch for scams


Fraudulent postings are a common occurrence on Craigslist. If you plan to buy a vehicle from a Craigslist seller, be very cautious.

A Trumbull County consumer said he found a 2005 all-terain vehicle for sale on Craigslist. The seller told him to send $1,600 via Western Union to London, and promised to send the vehicle. Although the consumer sent the money, the vehicle never arrived.

The Federal Trade Commission offers the following warning signs of a Craigslist vehicle scam:

  • Cars are priced far below current market value.
  • The seller claims to be in the military, stationed overseas.
  • The posting does not include a phone number.
  • The seller demands that you use a specific online escrow service.
  • The person receiving the call is referred to as a "pickup agent."
  • Payment must be wired to or from another country, often via Western Union.
  • The buyer or seller is very anxious to conclude the transaction.

If you are selling a vehicle on Craigslist, watch for variations of the fake check scam. For example, a buyer sends you a check for more than the agreed-upon price. He tells you to deposit the check and wire the difference back to him. Unfortunately, his check bounces and you have lost any money you wired (plus the vehicle, if you sent it).


Report a scam — Ohio Attorney General's Office

Consumer information from the Federal Trade Commission

File a consumer complaint — Ohio Attorney General's Office

Request a free Consumer Awareness Workshop — Ohio Attorney General's Office

Sign up to receive the Consumer Advocate e-newsletter — Ohio Attorney General's Office