Help keep me from getting ripped off!
January 15, 2009 5:56 AM   Subscribe

Making an expensive, long-distance purchase. He only accepts "cashier's checks/money orders". How do I protect myself?

That's basically the entire question. This is a craigslist-style sale, so there's no way to track it digitally... He gave me one address that the vehicle is located (his small business, which checks out on google) and another to send the check (his home address). He informed me that if I faxed him a copy of the check, he would immediately fax back the title, with my information on it, to show that he's actually got the vehicle and that he'll be dropping it in the mail as soon as he receives the real, physical copy of the check.

He sounds real legit, and I'm a really trusting person, so I'm going to go for it. I know there are probably a lot of warning flags here, but I'm going with my gut. Just wondering if anyone knows of any clever ways to protect myself...
posted by Glendale to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hell no. This sounds dodgy as all hell.

I would highly recommend looking into an Escrow service ; I've no idea where the seller is located, but you'll be able to find Escrow services pretty much anywhere that will handle the transaction.

If the seller refuses to go along with this, then that's a sure sign that they really have no intent on delivering the goods ; or said goods are themselves dodgy or stolen.
posted by sektah at 6:04 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

An escrow service maybe? I've never purchased a car over the internet but this is the service I was looking at while considering it.
posted by syntheticfaith at 6:06 AM on January 15, 2009

Car purchases are always done in person. Why isn't this one?
posted by smackfu at 6:12 AM on January 15, 2009

Is the car going to be shipped to you, or are you going to go get it? If the latter, just put down a small deposit and pay the rest when you get there.
posted by jon1270 at 6:13 AM on January 15, 2009

he's actually got the vehicle and that he'll be dropping it in the mail

OK, now I'm really confused.
posted by smackfu at 6:14 AM on January 15, 2009

Response by poster: The car is 3500 miles away, so it will be shipped. When I said he'll be dropping it in the mail, I meant the title to the vehicle. I'll look into escrow services, thanks :)
posted by Glendale at 6:15 AM on January 15, 2009

I would get a third party involved. This sounds mildly strange. He could be an honest person but if you are purchasing a car, that is a lot of money to get taken for and with no paper trail to protect yourself with..... Find an escrow service. If the dude wants nothing to do with it, then you should want nothing to do with him.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:16 AM on January 15, 2009

No careful person in their right mind would take a personal check from a stranger for large purchases. That in itself is not shady.

How do you know the car is in the condition that he claims it is? Pictures? Don't buy cars through the mail if you want to protect against getting ripped off. Fly out there, or buy a car locally.

An escrow (through an attorney or 'service') will protect you from getting completely ripped off, but in general unless you can have a mechanic inspect the vehicle (or you don't care if there's no engine inside, etc) you're probably better off letting it be.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 6:36 AM on January 15, 2009

Nthing an escrow service. The escrow service won't pay the seller until you receive and inspect the vehicle. You should never make a large transaction without inspecting the product yourself, and escrow services are exactly designed for these sorts of situations.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:38 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a really trusting person, so I'm going to go for it. I know there are probably a lot of warning flags here,

wtf? No offense, but are you actually talking yourself into getting ripped off?
posted by mannequito at 7:07 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Craigslist has the following information about scams:

Recognizing scams
Most scams involve one or more of the following:

inquiry from someone far away, often in another country
Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"
inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction

Your deal screams "scam" on all levels. I'll just add my voice to the chorus and say don't do it. Additionally, if the deal is so good that you can buy the car and have it shipped 3500 miles and still have it be a good deal, it's a scam.
posted by Floydd at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2009

Here's more of what Craigslist has to say about a scenario like this.

I'm usually all for informal transactions and going with your gut, but this has a sign on it that says, "Jump into me, I'm a trap!" The way to protect yourself is to walk away.
posted by gum at 8:06 AM on January 15, 2009

Hope I didn't come off sounding rude.
I just remember how angry and shitty I felt after getting ripped off on a digital camera off Ebay a few years back ... can't imagine what it would feel like to have the same thing happen over a car.
posted by mannequito at 11:32 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

ohhhh, don't do this. this sounds EXACTLY like what almost happened to my brother with a boat he wanted to buy. My brother is such a smart guy, but his wife said, "it's the internet, ask your sister" and when I read the ad, I didn't like it. So I googled some of the more unique passages of the ad and sure enough, found it posted all over the internet, just the name of the high-ticket item was changed - a boat, a bass guitar, an antique car.

don't do it.
posted by micawber at 5:22 PM on January 15, 2009

« Older Right now it's more of a 'gesture'...   |   how can i confirm my dental insurance? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.