The $3,600 Honda Accord- A Craigslist Car Too Good to be True

Chasing scams is a fun gig. It is easy to find scams which are clumsy, such as straightforward pyramids or get-rich-quick schemes.

The key to really busting a scam open is to study it and describe it in great, accurate detail. Even people who immediately see a situation as a rip-off will still enjoying reading about how it works.

And the trick is studying the scams without investing any actual money...not getting scammed.

But that isn't always possible. Sometimes the only way to figure out how a scam works is to wade in with two feet and a bundle of cash.

Luckily, I haven't had to try that yet.

The $3,600 Honda Civic.

Last week spotted a fine deal on Craigslist, a $3,600 2003 Honda Accord 4-door. The lowest price Kelly Blue Book was showing for this model was about $6,500, so I figured something was amiss.

I wrote.

Subject: 2003 Honda  :  Accord Sedan $3600    (sacramento)
Message: Hi. This seems like the perfect car. Why are you selling it?


Thanks for replying to my ad. I want you to know the car is in excellent condition with no rust or any kind of damage anywhere and it doesn't need any maintenance. The odometer shows 68,000 miles. I can provide you a Carfax report for the car. Title is clear and free of liens. This 2003 Honda Accord Sedan has an automatic transmission and it's very easy to drive even for a beginner.
   My price is $3600. I am now in a divorce and I am in desperate need of money to pay the mortgage on my house with this economical crisis. That's my only reason for selling it  otherwise I wouldn't do it.
   The deal will be handled by eBay through their eBay Vehicle Purchase Program . They will handle the title and money transfer and deliver the car to your location. The car is at their office in Boise City,ID.
   The best part about this is that you'll get 5 days money back guarantee. If at the end of those 5 days you decide not to keep it you'll get a full refund by them. If you are interested about the Accord and if you have the money available all you have to do now is to send me your full name and your address. As soon as I hear that from you I will initiate the transaction through them.
   The process is very simple and risk free for both of us.
   Here are some pics with the car:
    Thank you

Mike Bxxxxxx

Hmm. That seems complicated, and I didn't know eBay had offices in Boise City. "Maybe", I thought, "he has to have a very low price in order to get people to follow through on his complicated billing setup".

No. That didn't make sense. If he could get more money by selling it in person, that is what he would do, and he definitely could get more than $3,600 for his Honda Civic. This was almost definitely a scam of some kind. I wanted to know how it worked.

The car wasn't on eBay. I wrote back.

Is the car on ebay?

the car is not listed on eBay anymore but is still available through their Vehicle Purchase
let me explain to you the process:
I've decided that the payment should be completed by using EBay security, because I want to take this opportunity to assure you that this deal is 100% LEGIT but you must know that this way eBay will require you to send the deposit and they will have to verify both me and the car and you as well before we can close this deal through their service.
Your money will be kept by the eBay agent until you will receive the car and send them the confirmation that you are satisfied with the product received. In case you don't want to keep the car  all you will have to do is ask them for a refund and you will be totally refunded in 2 days.
REMEMBER: for the delivery I am responsible .
So if you are interested I will need your full name and delivery address as soon as possible in order to send your details to the eBay agent to make the arrangements for delivery.

Mike Bxxxxxx

Ok. This wasn't getting any better. I've bought two cars off of craigslist and no one ever assured me that the deal was "100% LEGIT". And if the car was in Boise City, what did this have to do with Sacramento Craigslist? And if Ebay was responsible for the delivery, how can this guy be responsible for the delivery?

Ok. I see.
Are you in Reno?

I am in Boise,ID
so if you are interested send me your details so we can start

So, that was it. He was far away, the car was far away. I didn't have an easy way to prove he was trying to scam me, but the evidence was piling up and I wasn't interested in baiting him any further on a deal I wasn't going to follow through on.

Sometimes you just have to chalk it up to "too good to be true" and leave the mystery at that. Or maybe.. I missed out on a hell of a deal!

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February 24, 2009.  

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