Ever looked to purchase a vehicle online and stumbled across exactly what you’re looking for at a price that seems like it’s too good to be true? Compound that amazing price with some seemingly reasonable excuse explaining why you cannot view the vehicle in person prior to submitting a full or partial payment (I’m leaving the country and need to get rid of it, I’m about to deploy for the military, I live in Europe etc.), and you can almost guarantee you’re dealing with an auto auction scam.
Auto auction scams are among the most common. In this type of auction, the only information that you usually have are the seller’s description as well as some pictures of the vehicle. Unlike local auctions, you’re not able to personally inspect and see if each part of the vehicle is working properly (or if the vehicle even exists and is owned by the person or persons placing the advertisement).
To protect yourself during online auto auctions it is good to ask for more pictures if you aren’t satisfied with the ones that the seller posted. Aside from that, you should also check the seller’s feedback rate. The higher the seller’s feedback rate is, the more reliable he is supposed to be. But remember that it isn’t always the case. If you’re dealing with an unregulated site like Craigslist, where there’s no seller’s history or other site regulation, it’s probably best to simply avoid any seller where there’s any reason you cannot physically see the car before purchasing it.
Remember that any time you send by Western Union, or otherwise transfer money, and then the recipient decides not to honor your agreement, there’s not a lot that can be done to have their funds returned. Be especially wary about cars being sold where the seller is in another country. This is even more likely a scam and your funds will be unrecoverable if that is the case. Like anything else, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.