Thursday, September 14, 2006

Scammed on Craig's List

When you're selling a used car, the craziest things can happen.

I know this because when I sold my Camry 5 years ago, the nightmares keep coming back. The incessant phone calls. The lowballers. The guys who just liked to talk cars and have you answer all the questions you already answered in the ad. The guys who can't remember which car this is even though they're calling you. The woman who wanted the car for her daughter but didn't bring her daughter to drive the car and so couldn't think of buying it.

These people are crazy.

So, here I am, 5 years later, selling my beautiful 1998 Acura RL. Well, it was beautiful before the dent in the side. I refused to have it fixed, mostly because I was convinced there would be another, and another...

Somebody, I don't remember who, suggested I post the ad on Craig's List, as that's where all the people in their 20's and 30's in the Bay Area are going to look for EVERYthing. So, I posted the ad Saturday night, hoping I'd get a snag for Sunday, and on Sunday the car broke down.

But I got two emails right away. One from Patrick Autos, which sounded like a dealership (which meant to me that I might be asking too little...), and the other from a woman asking me to call her husband when I was ready to show it.

Patrick Autos was very insistent, emails asking me what my bottom price was and where was the car. I answered "6500," and the following is the response I got:

"Thanks for the email. Well, I want to use this medium to inform you that the price was accepted by me and I hope that everything is okay with it. I will be sending you a cashier's check or money order for $13,000 which will cover buying and shipping to my location.

"So as soon as payment gets to you, you are required to deduct the cost of your item, which is $6500, and you will also deduct another $100 for removing the advert off the net and send the balance to my carrier via any international money transfer firm around you for him to be able to offset shipping charges.

"After payment has reached you and balance sent back to him, my agent will come for inspection/pick-up. Confirm name and address check will be made out to and delivered to."

OhmiGod!!! A scam!!!!

My God, I mean, I've received phishing emails just like everybody else on the 'net, but NEVER something as blatant as this! And how do I know this is a scam, personally directed at me and my car? Good 'ol Craig's List warned me. In fact, right after I posted my ad on CL, I got a warning that described EXACTLY what these people would try to do!! Don't accept any sales long distance, they said, and then described the same scenario -- sending a check or money order for a gross amount over the sales price, throwing in an exhorbitant amount to cover administrative costs, you know, to appeal to those of us who are greedy. And they don't want the car -- they just want the money you will send back to them before you discover that the "cashier's check" will never clear.

I'm not greedy. I just want to get rid of this damned but beautiful car.

Craig's List told me not to answer Patrick Autos email, but I did -- with a simple, "Sorry, cash and in person only."

I have someone coming over tomorrow to look at the car. I try to be as honest as I can, disclosing everything. I hope they're the same, unlike Patrick Autos.

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