Car Delivery Scam Preys On Unsuspecting Buyers During Pandemic

Monday, November 2nd 2020, 12:43 pm
By: CBS News

Used car sales are on the rise and many are avoiding dealerships and having the vehicles delivered to their homes, but scam artists are capitalizing on this new way to buy a car.

Facebook Marketplace is where Carolyn Bui thought she found a great car for her son in college. A 2012 Honda Accord for just $2,000.

"I was a little doubtful, a 2012 could be $2,000," Bui said.

But the seller told Bui the car was discounted for a quick sale because her husband died and she was leaving for the military. Bui asked to see the car but was told it was in storage and would be delivered instead.

"I received another email from the eBay that the car is shipping to my son," Bui said.

She received a contract that appeared to be run through eBay.

So Bui sent the seller $2,000 in gift cards, but the email was a fake and the whole thing turned out to be a scam. The car never arrived and the gift cards were drained.

Experts say you should never pay someone in gift cards.

"If you paid via gift card or wire, it's unlikely you'll get your money back," according to Steve McFarland with the Better Business Bureau.

McFarland has seen a rise in car delivery scam reports during the pandemic.

The BBB projects it will receive more than 450 complaints this year, with those victims losing over $1 million, and that's just people they've heard from. The group thinks thousands of Americans have been taken by the scam.

Experts say there are warnings signs to look for:

  1. a car priced well below market value
  2. the seller says they are leaving for the military or there's been a death in the family
  3. they won't meet in person, often citing COVID as the reason.
  4. and the scammers ask to be paid via wire transfer or gift cards
  5. and they want you to do this transaction very quickly

Authorities said the con artists are often overseas, making it very difficult to catch them.