While shopping online on Craigslist.com for a used car for my son, I can across this ad:
2000 HONDA Accord EX V6
LEATHER SUNROOF 200 Horse Power V6 Automatic Transmission Naples Gold Metallic Exterior Soft Plush Leather Interior In Dash CD Radio Remote Entry …Perfect CarFax History…No accidents no damage no problems…
The price? $2960!
With 116k miles, that’s at least $2000 below Kelley Blue Book! I excitedly emailed the contact and asked to make an appointment to see it.
The response was this in its entirety (emphasis mine):
Hello and sorry for my delay,
I’m Sgt. Robert Parra. This Honda is in perfect working condition. This vehicle engine runs very, very smooth. No electrical problems on this beauty. This detailed vehicle makes the exterior looks like it just came off the assembly line. The car has 118k highway miles. VIN Number: 1hgcg1655ya068349
It was never involved in any accident, not even minor ones. The body and paint are great. The interior is super clean, mechanically, it runs like a cat on carpet.
Here are the pics of the car :
As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay’s Buyer Protection Program in order for you to be 100% protected. You will make the payment to eBay and they will hold the money until you receive the car. ONLY AFTER you receive the car and you inspect it(for 10 days) eBay will release the payment to me; in this way we are both protected. Anyway i am sure that if you will don`t be satisfied about the car i will surely find another buyer in your area and there will be no need for you to ship the car back.
I am located in London, United Kingdom and I was sent here to improve the military relationships between USA and UK. One month ago, my wife moved here with me and brought the car with her, but now we have to sell it back in US because we can’t register it here; it has US specs and everything, and registering it here in Europe will take for ever. My final price on it is US 2,960 $. If you will take it for this price, I am willing to handle the shipping. It will be shipped from here by plane with US Air Military Cargo so it will not cost me anything. You will get it to the nearest airport in your area and then it will be trucked forward to your place. You will receive the car in about 3 days. Please get back to me asap if you decide to buy, and include in your e-mail your full name and address where you want it shipped so I can start the deal with eBay. You will receive all the transaction payment and shipping details from them.
Can this be legit? I am hoping it is!
I sent a message back to “Sgt. Parra” and asked him whether the car will pass the smog check for California. I figured if it was really legit, someone else probably bought it already, but it’d be worth asking.
Then a couple of hours later, I get another email. I contacted another seller of another ad from Craigslist for a Camry that I thought was a good buy.
Here is the email response in its entirely (emphasis mine):
The 2003 Toyota Camry is located in Farmington, CT and it is in perfect condition, with no need for additional repairs, no scratches, dings, special marks whatsoever. It has 44k miles and the VIN is: 4T1BE32K03U655388. It has a clear title ready to be signed and notarized on your name. I have the pictures hosted on the net and you can see them at:
The price is $2,900 including shipping costs anywhere in the continental US. There are no other costs regarding this transaction.
The transaction will be closed only through a 3rd party and this way we will both be protected.
My time is limited due to my job in the army so I decided to use a service from Worldpay. To begin the transaction I’ll need your full name and shipping address. I will forward the details of our transaction to Worldpay and then you will receive an invoice from them. The car will be shipped insured to your location with DAS and you will have 5 days for inspection.
I am catching on now…
Both cars advertised at incredible prices at about $2,900, both seller’s names are Robert, both are willing to ship from out of the area for free, both are in the military, both use photobucket to post pictures …
Since I’ve been scouring Craigslist, Autotrader and dealerships for a car, I had sent out several emails. I forgot what I sent out.
So a couple of hours later, I got yet another response, for an Acura I asked about.
Now I am rolling on the floor laughing!
Here’s an excerpt:
Hello and sorry for my delay,
Yes, I know, you are busy in the military, right?
The 1999 Acura TL is in perfect working condition.This detailed vehicle makes the exterior look like it just came off the assembly line….It was never involved in any accident, not even minor ones…The interior is super clean, mechanically, it runs like a cat on carpet…
You must’ve been talking to Sgt. Robert Parra! Both of you have a cat! And do you also have a wife who doesn’t check ahead of time if a foreign car can be registered in the UK?
As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay’s Buyer Protection Program…I am located in London,United Kingdom and I was sent here to improve the military relationships between USA and Serbia. One months ago, my wife moved here with me and brought the car with her, but now we have to sell it back in the United States because we can’t register it here…It will be shipped from here by plane with US Air Military Cargo so it will not cost me anything. …
It’s Serbia now, very nice.
At least they are getting a little more creative with the name.
I googled this subject and found a forum discussion of someone who got this email, a friend of the Roberts, no doubt, and coincidentally also named Robert, with a cat and a wife who just joined him too! I put an excerpt here, but I’m sure you can figure out what the rest says:
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 18:22:47
Subject: 2001 Honda Accord
Hello and sorry for my delay,
The 2001 Honda Accord is in perfect working condition.This detailed vehicle makes the exterior look like it just came off the assembly line…blah, blah, blah…
It was never involved in any accident, not even minor ones…mechanically, it runs like a cat on carpet….
I signed up for US military forces and I was sent here with my department to improve the military relations between our country and UK….blah, blah, blah…
Sgt Robert Mclean
I might have fallen for the first reply if the scammer would just be a little for creative in their approach.
Apparently, an epidemic of ads like this is on all kinds websites, including the sale of motorcycles, ATVs, jet skis, motor homes, trailers, and even farm equipment.
One member of the forum responded with this advice:
1. eBay does not “hold the money” until you are satisfied with the car. Once you pay them, that is it. And I suspect they will ask you to pay by Western Union.
2. The military does ship cars overseas for servicemen (why does this guy talk in pidgon english if he’s American, anyway?). But thet SHIP them, by SHIP, not by air. Total LIE.
3. American servicemen can drive their cars overseas without registering them there. Again total LIE. Why would a serviceman have a car shipped overseas if he could not register it?
The pattern is the same: a coveted item (BMW, Kobota Tractor, Honda motorcycle, etc.) worth $10,000 to $20,000 is offered for a pitiful amount – $2500 to $5000 with a long-winded “backstory” behind it. You wire them the money, thinking you scored big and that’s the last you hear of them.
They hijack eBay identifications by using those phishing scams. Typically if you look at their feedback, you’ll see it is some little old lady in Arkansas selling dolls. Suddenly, the person is a Seargent in the Army in England selling a car. What gives?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is….