Alert: Internet Vehicle Scams on Craigslist and Other Non-eBay Sites
When you start and end your transaction on eBay Motors, you automatically get the benefit of eBay’s Vehicle Protection Program*. With more than 5 million cars sold to date, eBay Motors offers protections you won't find anywhere else online, such as up to $50,000 in Vehicle Purchase Protection and free vehicle history report. *Restrictions apply. See terms and conditions.
eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection* covers only certain vehicle transactions that are completed on eBay.com. If a Craigslist or non-eBay seller 'promises’ you the eBay protection plan, this is false and almost certainly a scam and you should walk away. The following are buying tips and warning signs that all customers should keep in mind when considering any vehicle purchase. Vehicles include, but are not limited to, cars, trucks, boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, campers, RVs and trailers.
*Restrictions apply. See terms and conditions.
Common warning signs:
- Vehicle is advertised well below what it is worth.
- Know the approximate value of the vehicle you are interested in buying by using trusted resources on the internet such as Kelley Blue Book or Nada Guides.
- If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
FACT: Criminals will make the vehicle very appealing and tempt you with a price you don't want to miss out on.
- Seller pushes for speedy completion of the transaction and requests payment through a service or method that can put the money in their hands quickly.
- Moneygram (see example )
- RELoadit card (see example )
- PayPal MyCash card (see example )
- Western Union (see example)
- Direct Bank Transfer where the bank account is provided (see example )
- GreenDot (see example )
Escrow accounts can also be used to securely transfer funds to the seller (providing that you set up the escrow account, not the seller). eBay recommends using our approved escrow service with Escrow.com. Learn more about using an escrow service.
Direct bank transfers and wire payments may also be requested by the Seller. Please proceed with caution with these payment methods and remember it is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle in person before sending any money.
With all transactions, we want to encourage you to work with the Seller. In addition, you may want to consider providing payment at the time you pick up the vehicle.
- You cannot meet the seller or look at the vehicle prior to sending a payment. The seller may be very polite and apologetic, but cannot meet you due to a special circumstance, such as:
- Seller is being/has been deployed by the military
- Seller is going through a divorce (or getting married)
- Death in the family or a health issue of a relative
- They work on a boat or are out of town for an extended period of time
- Received through inheritance and not needed
FACT: Legitimate sellers are motivated and will make every effort to meet with all potential buyers immediately. If the seller cannot meet, they will designate another person to show the vehicle on their behalf.
- Private seller offers free shipping of the vehicle to you. Criminals may tell you they have access to transportation resources, possibly through their employer or because they are in the military and can coordinate the delivery for you (even if it's cross country).
- Similar to being priced below what it is worth, this typically is a tactic used to entice potential buyers
FACT: On eBay, as the buyer, you typically are responsible for picking up the vehicle or hiring a shipping company. Some eBay Motors Dealers may offer free shipping on our website.
To determine if the listing is from a Private Seller or Dealer please refer to the field labeled "For Sale By" within the description tab under the Item specifics section.
- You found the vehicle on another website and the seller tells you eBay will protect the transaction, such as:
- Extend eBay warranty, eBay guarantee, or a buyer's protection plan
- Offer a return policy in case you are not satisfied (like a 'cooling off' period)
- Process the payment directly or hold/secure the funds
FACT: eBay provides Vehicle Purchase Protection only for transactions that start and are completed on the eBay Motors website (other terms and conditions apply). In addition, eBay does NOT hold payments or extend protection for non-eBay conducted transactions.
The only way to buy a vehicle on eBay is by logging into your eBay account with a user ID/email address and password. One of the following needs to be true:
- You were the winning bidder on the auction
- You clicked 'Buy it now'
- You sent a best offer and the seller accepted it
In these cases, the item will always appear in the purchase history of your eBay account.
- Criminals want to lure you into feeling safe. They take extra effort to disguise their websites and emails to look like they are from eBay or associated with eBay, when they are not. See Example
- Emails have poor grammar, broken English or have other distinguishing errors (e.g., misspelled words, incorrect punctuation)
- Communications may be overly formal or sound very mechanical. The responses are not personalized and could include general terms like 'Dear Sir' and 'Good Day'
- Emails are not sent from the 'eBay.com’ domain. Criminals may have a recognizable word in their email name or as part of their domain name, such as 'eBay' or 'VPP' (e.g., eBay@vppinsurance.com) but these are NOT sent from eBay.
- Email contains false information like invoice numbers, transaction case IDs, or VPP case ID #s
If you are suspicious about an email that claims to be from eBay, sign in to My eBay and click the Messages tab. If you do NOT see the same message "From eBay", the email is likely fake. To report a fake email, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
To date, more than FIVE million customers have purchased vehicles through eBay. eBay works hard to create a safe marketplace, but criminals still may attempt to exploit you. Please be cautious with all online transactions and research the seller and the item you are intending to purchase carefully before making any payments.
If you are still unsure if the vehicle being offered is legitimate, contact eBay Customer Service.
FBI/IC3 Public Service Announcement Link
The FBI today is warning the public that online vehicle shoppers are being victimized by fraudulent vehicle sales and false claims of vehicle protection programs (VPP). In fraudulent vehicle sales, criminals attempt to sell vehicles they do not own. They create an attractive deal by advertising vehicles for sale at prices below book value. Often the sellers purport they need to sell the vehicle because they are moving for work, to include military deployments.
Because of the alleged pending move, criminals refuse to meet the victim in person or allow a vehicle inspection, and they often attempt to rush the sale. To make the deal appear legitimate, the criminal instructs the victim to send full or partial payment to a third-party agent via a wire transfer payment service and to fax the payment receipt to the seller as proof of payment.
The criminal pockets the payment but does not deliver the vehicle. Criminals also attempt to make their scams appear valid by misusing the names of reputable companies and programs. These criminals have no association with these companies, and their schemes give buyers instructions that do not adhere to the rules and restrictions of any legitimate program. For example, eBay Motors' VPP is a legitimate program whose name is commonly misused by these criminals.
The VPP is not applicable to transactions that originate outside of eBay Motors, and it prohibits wire-transfer payments. Nevertheless, criminals often promise eBay Motors VPP coverage for non-eBay Motors purchases and instruct victims to pay via Western Union or MoneyGram.
In a new twist, criminals use a live-chat feature in e-mail correspondence and electronic invoices. As live-chat assistants, the criminals answer victims' questions and assure them the deals are safe, claiming that safeguards are in place to reimburse buyers for any loss. The criminals falsely assert that their sales are protected by liability insurance coverage up to $50,000.
Automotive shoppers should exercise due diligence before engaging in transactions to purchase vehicles advertised online. In particular, shoppers should be cautious of the following situations:
- Sellers who want to move the transaction from one platform to another (for example, from Craigslist to eBay Motors).
- Sellers who claim that a buyer protection program offered by a major Internet company covers an auto transaction conducted outside that company's site.
- Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and request payments via quick wire transfer payment systems.
- Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
- Transactions in which the seller and vehicle are in different locations. Criminals often claim to have been transferred for work reasons, deployed by the military, or moved because of a family circumstance, and could not take the vehicle with them.
- Vehicles advertised at well below their market value. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have witnessed this behavior or fallen victim to this type of scam, please file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov.
Safe online car buying tips
The FBI's IC3 and eBay Motors want to provide tips to savvy online auto shoppers looking to score a deal. The following are three tips from these experts:
- Research and inspect the car. Go beyond the information in the vehicle listing. Take advantage of vehicle history reports to be certain of mileage and vehicle condition. Review the title and hire an inspection service to look at the car prior to purchase.
- Check the person's background. Examine the seller's feedback, ratings and comments. Communicate directly with the seller by phone or through secure channels like the My eBay message center to ensure correspondence is authentic.
- Never send payments via wire services. Never use Western Union, MoneyGram or other wire services—bank to bank transfers are okay. If you plan to pay in cash, do so in person and obtain a receipt.