The process of buying and selling used Teslas should be easy, fun, and – most importantly – safe. That’s why we actively take steps to eliminate fraud on our platform by doing things like verifying identities and obtaining car history reports.
No matter what steps we take though, there are always people out there pushing the envelope to come up with new scams. That’s why one of the best ways to prevent fraud is in arming potential victims with the knowledge they need to protect themselves. Ultimately, the best person to protect you… is you.
With that in mind, continue reading below to learn some of the most common scam tactics, as well as some simple things you can do to ensure you don’t get taken advantage of.
Common Online Scam Tactics
Fake Listing Scam
One of the most common online scams, this involves criminals posting fake ads to “sell” vehicles they don’t even own. Usually, the price will seem to good to be true, because it is.
They’ll usually try to legitimize the listing with fake sob stories about the price, or their ownership status, or how urgently the need to sell.
They might even claim partnership with a reputable company, such as eBay. Many times they create fake emails or phone numbers designed to impersonate the company. This creates the illusion of safety, priming the victim to let down their guard.
Afterward, the buyer is instructed to purchase prepaid gift cards and share the codes as payment. The scammer confirms that the vehicle is en route, and days later when no vehicle appears, the criminal disappears and ignores all attempts at contact.
That’s right, you can get scammed if you’re selling. In this con, a seller receives a check for MORE than they sold the vehicle for. When they bring up the obvious mistake, the fake buyer informs them that the extra money is to compensate them for shipping the car. Then, they’ll ask the seller to send the money to their shipping service.
The seller pays up… only to find out the check is bad a few days later.
Paypal is known for being secure, so a lot of people use it for online purchases. That extra comfort is exactly what this scam relies on. In this scam, a fake buyer will offer to purchase your car very quickly, often without even seeing it. The scammer informs the seller that they’ve sent the money, and the car is OK to ship.
Then, they send a fake email designed to look as if it’s come from Paypal. The email “verifies” that the money has been sent. In reality, the only way to know you’ve received money when using Paypal is to check your actual Paypal account.
Fake Escrow Service Scam
An escrow is a financial arrangement where a third party holds and regulates payment of the funds required for two parties involved in a given transaction. Thus, escrow services are pretty useful for mediating online transactions… when they’re real.
This scam starts when a “buyer” directs the victim to a fake escrow site so they can fill out fake paperwork. It ends with the seller out a vehicle, or shipping costs, or both.
Scam Prevention Checklist
Not all scams are the same, but they all tend to follow the same principles. Criminals will use fake documents to get your money, and fake forms of payment get your vehicle. That’s why it’s often easier to just have a list of things you can do to ensure you’re safe. Bookmark this page, and then come back later when you’re negotiating your own deal. That way you can use this checklist easily.
- Research and verify everything… twice.
- Obtain a vehicle history report from a reputable company like Carfax and Autocheck
- Research everything you can about the other parties involved. Names, email addresses, regular email addresses, phone numbers… anything you can get.
- Double check all related emails to make sure they don’t come from suspicious domains
- Get the VIN, plate number, and the name of the individual the car is registered to
- If you’re meeting in person, only meet in public, and only during the day
- Photoshop exists, and you can’t always trust pictures. Inspect the vehicle. If you don’t know how, then get someone you trust to inspect it for you.
- If the price seems too good to be true, it is.
- Use the right payment process. Anything non-traditional is usually a scam. Gift cards are a scam 100% of the time. Personal checks, wire transfers, and cash only deals are dangerous. A cashier’s check is the best.
- Double check the cashier’s check. Call to confirm it’s real, but not with the number on the check – it could be fake. Instead, google the bank and call that number to confirm it’s legit. Or if you’re both local, go to the bank with the other party and have a check cut right in front of you.
- Don’t use any escrow account you didn’t choose yourself or verify independently
- Don’t deal with any proxy. Only deal with the owner
- Don’t rush the process. Scammers use time based tactics to get you to make mistakes. These take the form of sob stories or extenuating circumstances. It takes time for checks to clear, and other people’s personal issues aren’t your responsibility. Be professional, be patient.
- Only transfer ownership after you have received the payment and verified that it is in your account.
- Scammers often ask for money upfront. If they ask you to pay in advance to ensure that you get the right to purchase the vehicle, or hold your place in line, then walk away.
- Make sure any and all sites you may visit in the process are secure. Look for the “S” in “https” before any site asking for your information. The S stands for “secure”.
- Sharing information is good, but don’t share banking info, credit card info, social security numbers, insurance numbers, or anything else that could open you up to identity theft.
We’ll do everything in our power to prevent fraud from happening on our platform, but remember: the person ultimately responsible for protecting you… is you. So please be safe, and take care of yourself. And if you happen to suspect anyone you meet on our site then please notify us immediately at email@example.com