Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How To Spot Scams

When you're searching for a cheap car, there are people out there in the world who want to take advantage of you. These generally fall into three classes.

1) Curbstoners

These guys buy and sell cars for a living, but are not licensed dealers. They will buy cars from people, leave the titles open (as in not sign their name to them, but instead have you sign where they should have), avoid paying sales taxes, insurance, or surety bond cost, and generally don't sell nicer cars. They won't let you take extended test drives, they won't allow mechanical inspections, and they are operating above the law, so what gives them the need to be honest about the car? They're breaking the law already, why not say it's a one-0wner that granny owned and only drove to church and a grocery store on Sundays?

2) Foreign Scammers

You'll be browsing through car ads on CL and see a late model car for a third of what it's worth. You live in Texas, but the car pictures have palm trees in the background. The guy might claim some sob story about how he tried to import it into Schnozzbekistan but their emissions requirements were too strict and he has to ship it back and sell it. Or he's in the Army and needs to sell his car while he is overseas. Or whatever. Either way, it's a scam. If you follow through with it, you will lose any money you send the scammer and you will NOT get a car in return. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

3) Title Fraud

I'm selling this for my brother-in-law while he's in prison. FRAUD. My wife and I are getting divorced so I have to sell this right away before she gets it. FRAUD. Oh, getting a bonded title is EASY. FRAUD. If the title isn't in their name, RUN AWAY. If the title already has markings on it where it shouldn't, RUN AWAY. If it looks like someone erased a signature, RUN AWAY. If they "lost" the title but will get you another one in a few weeks, RUN AWAY. If they offer you only a Bill of Sale, RUN AWAY, unless you know what you're doing.

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