The men in our lives are split between "do it" and "dont't do it"... what would MeFi do?
September 29, 2012 4:33 PM Subscribe
My friend found a used car she wants to buy. Could you tell us whether this is a scam?
posted by désoeuvrée to Work & Money (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My friend is shopping for a used car, and she found one that she really wants. It's a recent model--let's say an Acura--with low mileage, and the guy selling it seems like a great person and straight-up in every way: he has a highly visible position at a big company and has communicated through his work email, he's on Twitter and Facebook, and my friend has met him and his wife (and really hit it off with them) and she and her brother have been to their house to test-drive the car, etc.
He's selling the car for the exact amount he owes on it--I think originally he wanted more, but they've been negotiating. This is where it gets weird (or maybe not): he wants her to mail a cashier's check to Acura Motor Finance in Texas, with a note on the memo line that she is paying off auto loan #[xxxx] for [seller's name]. Within two days, the DMV will supposedly be notified of the title change, and then my friend can register the car under her name. The guy says he will give my friend a bill of sale with her as the new owner, remove the plates and leave the car at her house in the meantime.
My friend's brother called Acura and they said something like, "9 times out of 10, the title is actually transferred." (9 times out of 10???) When I ran it by my boyfriend who's really into cars, he said that his father, a former cop, once told him NEVER to buy a used car that is connected to Texas in any way, because Texas is known as the best state for running car scams. (Note: my friend and the car are NOT in Texas.)
So, what do you think--should she go for it? Have you ever bought a used car like this? Could it be a scam? Is there anything she can do to find out whether it is? I think the seller has since offered to use escrow, but I don't know the details or how that would work--would that even be possible in this situation, and would it cover my friend's ass? She really wants this car, it's a great deal, and she instinctively trusts the guy, but obviously with $25,000 at stake, she wants to be absolutely certain that she's not getting scammed.