Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Craigslist’

After I had learned to identify scams on Craigslist, I got to work researching real potential cars.  I grabbed a scribble pad from the dollar store, a gel pen, and started listing cars that at first glance looked good.  I put the Year, Make, and Model as a heading for each entry.  To the side I wrote the phone number of the owner, as listed on Craigslist.  Below the heading I put the cost, and then below that the mileage.  After that I went to my Edmunds.com appraisal site and listed the MPG and the Consumer Rating.  Then I did the appraisal and wrote that amount at the bottom.  A lot of people want hundreds of dollars more than their car is worth.  I feel sorry for them.

 

I searched mostly Nissan Maximas and Altimas, Toyota Camrys and Corollas, and VW Jettas (a friend has one).  Several friends told me they are happy with their Hondas, but that brand tended to be slightly above my price range.  Toyotas and Nissans are better deals.  One big thing to me is the gas mileage. I’m a good driver and can get the upper end of the range of fuel efficiency, but if a little Ford Taurus will get me 19 mpg while a similarly priced Nissan is nearer 29 mpg, I’m ruling out the Ford.  Different years of car get different mileage, so I have to pay attention.

 

I narrowed my list down to the best deals (runs well, new tires, maintenance records on hand, no accidents) and did a little more research on those models, reading through the Consumer Reviews on Edmunds.com, and editor reviews if there were any.  From the editor reviews I learned what to watch out for on a test drive (turn radius, blind spots).  And the Consumer Reviews let me know first, whether the higher ratings are for looks or for reliability and fuel efficiency; second, they told me what tends to go out, and at what mileage.  Were repairs frequent or expensive?  That way I could see if those repairs had been made recently to my potential cars.  You have to use a critical reading of the Reviews to get good information out of them.  Some vehicles reviewed were not well maintained, or the mechanics were not good.  Other people complain whenever a vehicle needs a repair.  A car at 100,000 miles is going to need a major fix or two.  My Saturn cost me about $700 in repairs every year, so if I can get better than that, I’ll be happy.  Finally, some people complain about performance (like they wanted a race car or a truck instead) and about little things breaking (having to slam the trunk lid, or rattles on the inside).  I’m not picky about those.

 

Next I took the initial steps of contacting the owners of the cars that survived my research.  I looked especially to get the VIN #’s, and for information about exact model (is it an LE, an SE, a GXE? – and what on earth do those mean anyway?) as well as to confirm that mechanical condition is good (especially, with the mileage I was looking at: near 100,000, for the engine and transmission).  Due to schedule constraints I was unable to set up test drives right away, so I contented myself with requests for more information, resigned to the possibility that a good deal might not be available by the time I was.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

Read Full Post »

My search on Craigslist for a used car for sale from a private seller soon yielded some exciting results.  When I compared the listed cars to the appraisal value, they were selling for way under market value, by thousands of dollars.  According to the listings, these couple cars had low mileage, were about 6 or 7 years old, good brands, and had some nice features.  I wondered what was wrong with them.  Still, not wanting to pass up a possible good deal, I sent out emails asking for more information.  My number one question is the VIN #, by which you can purchase a vehicle history report through CarFax.com or AutoCheck.com.  AutoCheck’s unlimited subscription was cheaper than Carfax’s, so I went with them.  It was about $45.

 

One woman emailed back, explaining that she was about to ship out to Afghanistan, and so needed to ship the car quickly.  She included a link to more information about the car, including a list of features, and the VIN.  But her though her listing had said the car was in Denver, her email said it was in Nevada.  And when I looked up the VIN, the Vehicle History Report gave some different information about the car, even some disturbing things like accidents or salvage titles.  She said she wanted to use Ebay’s Buyer Protection program to complete the transaction, so we would both be protected.  But Ebay doesn’t offer buyer protection unless the sale is done on Ebay.  How would that work?

 

Then I got another email about another car that was a great deal on Craigslist.  This email sounded way too similar.  He was about to ship out to Afghanistan also, but from North Dakota, and wanted the money to buy military stocks.  He would us a Military Shipping and Sales Service to protect our transaction, and ship the car to me free of charge.  I ran a Google search on his Military Shipping and Sales service.  I’ve played around with making a letter look like official letterhead.  If you can get a picture of the official symbols and match the fonts, you’re doing great.  Add in a link to the real organization, and the website is a pretty convincing fake.  There are a couple different websites that come up for US Military Shipping.  Both look real enough, but are pretty vague on how they work.  They link to a real US military site, at the bottom, claiming to be associated with them.  But they aren’t.  If you look at other Google entries, they are known frauds.

 

So I went on Craigslist and flagged the second emailer’s listing as a fraud.  And then I emailed him, telling him that I wasn’t dumb and wouldn’t be sending money for a car that wasn’t real.  And then I emailed the first one, giving the benefit of the doubt and just telling her I wanted to complete a transaction locally because there are so many scams on Craigslist.  She wrote back!  As though desperate for me to purchase her car, she told me more, that it was all ready to be shipped and shipping had been paid because another buyer backed out last minute.  She told me “more” about how Ebay Buyer Protection would work, that it left no risk to me and she would have to deal with getting the car back if I changed my mind in the risk-free period.  Or if I wanted to do a transaction face to face I could go out to Nevada to pick up the (crated?) car myself.

 

What pressure!  But the pushing made me more suspicious.  I did a Google search on her name.  She is supposedly a doctor and a Colonel, and yet there was no record of her online.  So I searched her division in the reserves and found an email from way back in June, with a different name, virtually identical to the second email she sent me.  She is listed as a fraud.  So I flagged her listing as well, and emailed her that I was not falling for her scam.  (She even used the same gmail address she had used in the past.  These crooks are lazy!)

 

Some of the fraud websites suggested we report these scams to the FTC.  So I went to their website and filed a complaint with all the information I had on each person – probably not enough to actually find the real people and convict them – and gave a summary of what had happened and what other action I had taken (flagging as “prohibited” on Craigslist).

 

At the top of Craigslist I noticed alerts in red, that all offers to ship cars are fraudulent.  There are companies that ship cars, but it is not a good idea to do that via Craigslist, with strangers.  Nor should you wire any money for transactions.  As I continued my searches, I began to note likely scams in the listings (some used similar fonts on their vehicle images, had similar vehicle makes and years for way under value).  One big red flag is that they don’t put a phone number in the listing.  So I gave these people a chance.  I emailed asking for more information.  If they offered to ship the car, I flagged them on Craigslist and reported them to the FTC.  Afterwards apparently it scared the scammers off for a while.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

Below, for the purposes of anyone who happens to Google similar emails, is the text of every fraudulent email I received.

 

Hello,
First of all I would like to thank you for your interest in my car. This 2004 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE  Sedan with 72,765 miles runs and drives excellent. This car has been extremely well maintained with a full service history. It has no leaks or drips and does not smoke at all. I am the first owner of this car with a clear title free of encumbrances and liens. All regular maintenance was performed at an authorized garage.
I have dropped my price to $2,676 (purchase price), since this is an Urgent Sale! At the moment I’m stationed at Nevada Air National Guard from Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB), making final preparations before deploying to Afghanistan. If you’re interested to conclude this purchase in a timely manner email me your name and shipping address to open a case with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program and they will contact you to explain the entire procedure. The financial part will be managed by them, which means that you will have a 5 days inspection period before committing to buy the car.  In this way both, buyer and seller are 100% covered during the steps of this transaction.

For more details and pictures click on this link: https://sites.google.com/site/2004nissanmaxima35sesedan/

Hope to hear from you soon.


Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

——————————————————————————————————–

Good afternoon,

The car is already at the shipping company, crated and ready to go from Reno, NV. So you can either come pick it up yourself today or I can take care of the shipping for you. I had another customer who said it will buy and after I made all the necessary arrangements in advance and paid for all shipping & handling fees, changed his mind because didn’t have all the money. This is why I need to ship it since all transportation charges have already been paid by me. Shipping may take anywhere between 4 to 6 business days depending on the destination. All documents you need for ownership, title, manuals and bill of sale will be provided along with the car.
As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay’s Buyer Protection Program. They will keep your money into a protection account until you get the car and will release it to me ONLY AFTER inspection period is over and you agree to keep the car. So, this is not a blind transaction, you can physically see the car before committing to buy and to eliminate any concerns you will have 5 days to inspect the car. If you decide not to keep it eBay will refund you the money, no questions asked, and shipping back will be my concern. I think this is more than fair for both of us.
I’ll start the official procedure, and eBay will contact us about this in less than 24 hrs.
If you are interested in buying it just mail me back with:
– Your Full Name – Required by eBay (You’ll receive important guidelines + instructions from them);
– Your Shipping Address and Phone Number – Required by the Shipping company (They will call you with delivery/pickup instructions 1 day ahead so you can communicate what time schedule work best for you to receive the car).
Again I want to point out that because I am going to Afghanistan this sale is my top priority and I am after a fast transaction, with no delays. That is why I decided to lower the price, to avoid wasting time with negotiations and find a buyer as soon as possible.

Thanks, hope to do business with you soon!

Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

————————————————————————————————-

Hello,
This 2004 Toyota Camry XLE V6 AUTOMATIC with 54710 Miles has a clear title. The general condition is excellent with no cosmetic complaints really worth comment. Both remote keys are present and are in working order,no electrical issues.
Everything  work perfect!
Price was reduced to $2700 (URGENT SALE) as I need to sell it in 2 weeks because I will leave with other troops in Afganistan and now US Army give us the chance to
buy some shares at BNSF RAILWAY.Co at half price and for this reason I need a fast transaction .
In order to sell my car, I will use US Army Shopping Service. This service was made only for US ARMY members to helps US Army memebrs to sell goods online !
So we can close the deal by US Army Shopping Service you must send the money to our Financial Department and after that the logistics department will shipp you the car and all the sale documents!
If you’re really interested in buying my car, make sure that you really have the cash available!
At the moment I’m stationed in our US Military AFB in NORTH DAKOTA making final preparations before deploying to Afganistan with the U.S. Convoy !
The car is already at our Military Logistic Department in our military base in NORTH DAKOTA , crated and ready to go.
The shipping is free because all the US Army members have 1 free delivery per year anywhere in US !
If you have any questions or if you want to buy my car just let me now and I will get back to you with more details about this transaction that will be done by US ARMY SHOPPING SERVICE !
I wish prefert to talck all the transaction details by the phone but right now I`m in a military base, getting ready for Afganistan and for this reason I will not have access to the phone for the next 2 weeks !
PICTURS ARE AVAILABLE IF YOU WANT ! JUST TELL ME AND I WILL SEND YOU THE PICS !

I’m waiting your answer !

———————————————————————————————-

Hi again,

I have received your email regarding the 2003 Nissan Maxima SE with only 44,000 miles.
The car is in perfect condition,with no scratches on it,no damage, clear title.
The price for the car is $2,850 with shipping included.The car was my husband`s as he loved it very much, but he did not enjoy it as he died in a IRAQ 3 month ago. It brings very bad memories to me, I want to get rid of it.
The buyer will receive the car with all papers and receipts that he needs to register it to his name.
Shipping will be done whit DAS and it will take no more then 2-3 days. I have a friend there who will manage me a low price shipping and I assumed that it is my duty to pay for shipping it.It will be delivered directly to your address.Anyway, I have to let you know that I want a fast deal so if you are really interested in buying it,please reply with the following information’s:
-Your full name;
-Your shipping address.(street,city,state,zip code)
The transaction will close only through eBay so we both will be protected.
I want eBay because as they are the biggest company on the Internet I think that we can close this deal fast and safe for both of us. Also I am not very familiar with the Internet transactions and eBay is the only one I know.I will look for your email,so that we can move forward with this deal!
Let me know.
Regards,

Amanda

 

Read Full Post »

I took my pretty gold Saturn to a mechanic when I got the chance a few months ago.  Its engine had been idling rough, especially at stoplights, and burning through more oil than was its wont.  But the mechanic had bad news.  I have worn out my engine.  The only fix is to rebuild the engine, costing about twice what my car is worth.  So far my car still runs, but will get gradually worse.  Being a busy young woman, who sometimes travels an hour or two from home by herself, I decided that I need a car more reliable than that.

When I finally had time, I started my search.  The websites I used when I bought my first car 6 years ago now have a limited supply.  Even Ebay seemed to be home of the pricier cars.  A $5000 budget seemed reasonable to get a decent car, since that is what I paid for my first car.  So my first day of searching yielded few results.  I kept my eyes peeled for “Sale” signs in the back of car windows and on the side of the road.

Last time I bought a car, the dealer showed me cars above the budget I told him, and didn’t tell me the price until I had already test driven it.  Then he lied to someone else on the phone, right in front of me.  I haggled him to a fair value for my car, had a horrible time getting the windshield replaced (and it still leaks), and had to buy new tires.  So I decided to buy a car from a private party from now on.  Hopefully a better deal and less lies.

A friend reminded me that now most people find their cars on Craigslist.  I’ve never bought or sold anything off of Craigslist.  I looked over my mom’s shoulder at it once.  Not that I was opposed; I just had no reason to use that site.  But I jumped on, used their limited search capacities in the category of Cars and Trucks for Sale by Owner, and got a list of cars in the metro area for sale.  I took my limited knowledge of reliable cars and began narrowing my search, mostly based on mileage and age of the car.  I was looking for something under 100,000 miles that would be in good enough shape to maintain for another 70 to 100 thousand more.

Edmunds.com is a great resource for buying a car.  They have guides to buying a used car, including what information to ask, what to check during a test drive, how to complete a sale, appraisals, and model reviews.  They also have the TCO, True Cost to Own, for more recent models.  So I pulled up a couple of Edmunds.com windows.  First thing was to pull up the sheet for the year and model car that looked interesting.  Then on the right hand side they have an estimated gas mileage below a consumer rating on a scale of 1 to 10.  If the gas mileage and rating didn’t seem too low, I proceeded to appraising the car for sale.

Most important information is the year, make, model, and mileage.  Without that information, I didn’t even bother to research the car.  But the appraisal also factors color, condition, as well as features like air conditioning, power windows, sunroofs, spoilers, and automatic transmissions.  After you click all the information you have on the car, you enter your zip code, and go forward with the appraisal.  Then there are three prices.  The first is Trade-In value, always the lowest.  Next is Private Party – the price I was comparing, and finally was Dealership price.  These prices are different from the Kelley Blue Book.  I aimed to find a car within a couple hundred of the appraisal value I found on Edmunds.com.

One important thing to note: Many listings for cars do not have the exact model of car they are selling.  For example, an Altima comes in SE, GXE, GLE, and probably a few others.  The listing on Edmund’s is in alphabetical order, and usually separates manual from automatic and 2-door, 4-door, and wagon.  If you don’t know the exact model, go for the “base model,” usually an S or SE.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »