And then I send them the money. Wait, what?
March 15, 2011 7:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm selling my car. I'm pretty sure that this offer to buy is a scam, but how does it work?

Someone responded to my online ad about 24 hours after it was published. The enquirer asked whether the car was still available. When I said it was, they responded with:
Thanks for the reasonable husband and i love the car, we have a car but need one more cos we work at different area of the city and its kinda far from our home, i am very happy with the present condition of the car as you stated and we promise to take good care of the car as i knew no doubt about it. we have just relocate to beijing china, and we want the car to be ship to china so we will not be able to come over and inspect the car. so we will like to see more pictures of the car.
as for the mode of payment we will be paying you via bank transfer, and also i have registered with a shipping company which would come for the pick up after payment
pls get back to me asap
I'm very familiar with scams, through my work, but I'm not sure how this one works. Assuming I send through the photos and they send the payment, what happens then? Any ideas? We don't live in China, BTW.
posted by Sutekh to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the scam is they dont actually transfer anymoney and you send the car.
posted by majortom1981 at 7:12 AM on March 15, 2011

Best answer: They send you a fake check for more than the asking price of the car. They ask you to send the extra back. You do, then find out days/weeks later that the original check was fake. You're now responsible for paying your bank back, while the criminals got away with it.
posted by ofcourseican at 7:12 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Or they send you a fake check for the asking price plus the cost of shipping it, then have you send the cost of shipping it to a fake shipping company. Their original check bounces three weeks later and you lose the money you sent to the fake shipping company.

Since they mention bank transfer that may not be the exact scam. They may just want your account information so they can write fake checks or otherwise withdraw money from your account.
posted by ChrisHartley at 7:17 AM on March 15, 2011

Best answer: Most likely, they set up the payment, then when it gets close, they ask for more money for shipping fees, and ask you to send them money...
check this out:

posted by fozzie33 at 7:17 AM on March 15, 2011

A fake or forged bank transfer might not be detected by your bank for a few days, after which you are out the money and possibly other fees.
posted by exogenous at 7:17 AM on March 15, 2011

Ofcourseican describes the most common form of this scam. It shows up in my city's police blotter from time to time.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:26 AM on March 15, 2011

Another variation of this scam is that they want to wire you the money before you have to send or do anything. Of course, they just need to know the wire details before hand, you know, innocuous stuff like your Full Name, Address, Bank Routing and Account Number. Funny though, the money never shows up to the account.
posted by forforf at 10:02 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yep, this nothing more than another variation of the most common fraud online ever, the good old advance-fee fraud. Hard to believe that anyone still falls for this, but there you are. As others have mentioned, this relies in some manner on a counterfeit cheque.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:22 AM on March 15, 2011

What website are you advertising this on? It sounds like Craigslist, which is pretty much a haven for scammers in my personal experience. (Every time I've tried to sell something, no matter what it was, all I got was scammers either asking for one-tenth the price, or wanting to mail me a check and me mail them the whatever, even after I stated LOCAL PICKUP ONLY.)
posted by Heretical at 2:40 PM on March 15, 2011

Sorry to ask a follow-on question on this one, but I'd really like to know. Is there any defense?

Could the OP wait for "settlement" and then ship the car? Is there any way to prevent being taken in the scam? What if they buyers were honest, what would or could they do differently? What would convince you?

I promise not to use the answers for evil. :)
posted by Invoke at 5:07 PM on March 15, 2011

There is no defense, because your bank telling you the funds are there is meaningless. There is no way this would ever be legit. You do not buy a used car, sight unseen ,and then arrange to ship it overseas. This scenario is a seller's dream though, which is why it works. Full price, no haggling or inspection? Wow! That sounds too go good to be true! That's because it is too good to be true. Scam, scam , and more scam.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:39 AM on March 16, 2011

There is no defense, because your bank telling you the funds are there is meaningless.

I believe the bank has only a limited time to correct such issues. This story is somewhat dated but has interesting details (newspaper article here).
posted by exogenous at 6:37 AM on March 16, 2011

Your cite is incorrect. The issue under discussion deals with counterfeit checks, not the niceties of law, whereby a business might make a mistake, which then accidentally produces a legitimate instrument. I need to say this again, I guess.


Do not listen to anyone who erroneously tells you that this can, in any way, be real, or that you might be protected. You're NOT. There isn't any chance whatsoever that this is legitimate. If you get involved with this, you will lose money. This is not how car sales are conducted, ever. It's just another flavor of a 409, or Nigerian scam. It's the oldest internet scam, ever. Do not be taken in by this well-known, highly documented, SCAM.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:15 PM on March 16, 2011

If you want an education on when a bank transfer might become irrevocable, try this search. In the US, a bank cannot remove money from your account whenever it wants. PareidoliaticBoy, what forms the basis of your opinion?
posted by exogenous at 5:02 AM on March 17, 2011

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