PSA: Scams on Craigslist

I'm a big believer in online buying; as a student, I've saved several hundred dollars in books going through internet sells.

Well, we're looking to buy another car right now, so the wifey and I were browsing the wasteland.  On Craigslist, we came across a couple of ads that seemed to be too good to be true (first red flag).  These folks replied to my inquiries with a level of detail that an average person would likely  exclude (second red flag).  The vehicles were each out-of-state, and the sellers offered to pay for shipping (third red flag).

Craigslist posts:
How to recognize a vehicle scam attempt on CL:

  • Shipping a vehicle to you is suggested by seller

  • eBay Motors or another intermediary is specified by seller

  • Payment by Western Union or a money wire is requested

  • Price is unusually low (fraction of blue book value)

  • If you see these tell-tale signs, flag ad as "prohibited" and avoid
    Offers to ship a vehicle are virtually 100% fraudulenteBay has no involvment in craigslist for sale ads, and any eBay or similar emails or web pages you receive are fakeNever use Western Union or wire transfer to pay for goods - only a scammer will ask for this, and any funds sent will be lost
    Do not buy vehicles site-unseen, regardless of low price. The vehicle does not exist, and any money you send will be lost.
    Stories about divorcees or departing servicemen needing to sell quickly at a low price are generally fraudulent
    If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
    More information is available for
     avoiding scams
    Copies of the scam emails:

    Scam #1 (Air Force/Family Emergency)
    Thanks for replying to my ad. I'm in a hurry to find a buyer because I have a family emergency and I need to sell it before March 11th. My name is Margaret. I'm an Air Force Staff Sergeant stationed at the Elmendorf AF Base, Anchorage, Alaska. The vehicle is here with me. 
    I'm the original owner. It has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects. It is in immaculate condition, meticulously maintained and hasn't been involved in any accident...I do have the title, clear, under my name. Non-smoker. It is rust free, salt free and has a clean undercarriage. 
    This 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe LT has 82,320 miles, Silver with Beige Leather Interior, Automatic 4SPD, 4 wheel drive, 5.3L V8. 3rd Row Seats, Air Conditioning, Driver Air Bag, Passenger Air Bag, Alarm System, Alloy Wheels, AM/FM, Anti-Lock Brakes, Automatic Climate Control, Cassette, CD Player, Cruise Control, Rear Window Defroster, Heated Seats, Tow Package, Power Door Locks, Power Mirrors, Power Windows, Power Steering, Power Seats, Tinted Glass, Tilt/Telescope Steering Wheel, Traction Control and more... 
    Here you can find more pictures of the SUV: [link removed]
    (if the above link does not work copy and paste it into a new web browser window). 
    It is still available for sale if interested, price as stated in the ad $2,970. If you want to buy this SUV I will take care of shipping. Shipping will be door to door, to your home address and I will offer 5 days to inspect the vehicle from the moment you receive it (and the option to accept or reject it on my expense), before I'll have your money. So if you need further information please get back to me as soon as possible. 
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    SSgt. Margaret Mead
    Scam #2 (National Guard Deployment to Iraq)
    I am selling this 2003 CHEVROLET SILVERADO because my platoon has been sent back to Iraq and don't want it get old in my backyard. The price is low because I need to sell it before March 1th. It has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects. It is in immaculate condition, meticulously maintained and hasn't been involved in any accident.. .I do have the title, clear, under my name. The truck has 166,000 miles miles miles original miles
    It is still available for sale if interested, price as stated in the ad $2,600. The truck is in Springfield, IL, in case it gets sold I will take care of shipping. Let me know if you are interested, email me back.

    Body type: truck
    ENGINE: 5.7L 8 - Cyl.
    Transmission: Automatic
    Fuel type: Gasoline
    Vehicle title: Clear
    Exterior color: Gray
    Interior color: Gray

    Thank you

    Staff Sgt. Alice Stewart
    139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
    Springfield, Illinois Army National Guard
    Scam #3 (Just moved, too many other priorities to own a vehicle?)
    Thank you for your interest in my car. I just moved to Helena, MT and there are a lot of things that have priority now, so this vehicle has to go. It looks exactly as pictured, 115,101 miles, has no mechanical flaws, and I will agree selling it for $2.800. I am willing to sell it fast, so get back to me only if you're ready to make this purchase. This is a very well maintained vehicle, automatic transmission clear title no liens, under my name and in hand. Due to the fact that I am very busy with my work I need a fast transaction, and I can`t afford to waste time on advertising the car at the true value. If you're willing to make this purchase, contact me asap and let's start the transaction.

    Engine: 6 - Cyl. Cylinder
    Transmission: Automatic
    Fuel type: Gasoline

    The vehicle is at the shipping company ready for the shipping. I have a contract with eBay so this deal must go through them, being the safest for both of us. Let me explain how it works:
    First of all I will need your full name and shipping address so I can register the transaction with eBay. Once you receive the details from eBay, the vehicle will be reserved for you until you read the details and decide if you want to proceed or not. You will have a 5 days inspection period, after the vehicle arrives at your address to make sure it is as shown in the photos and in good working order. If by any reason the vehicle is not as described or if you find any problems with it, I will arrange to ship it back on my cost.
    eBay will hold the funds until the inspection period is over and you decide if you're going to buy it or not. This way you're not going to pay for something you haven't seen and with the inspection period you can make sure it's as described.
    If you agree with this terms please reply with your full name and address so we can get the ball rolling.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

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