W-B family falls victim to online vehicle scam
Apr 16, 2012 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
WILKES-BARRE -- The red 2000 Dodge Dakota pickup truck was the exact vehicle Tim Brodhead Jr. was looking for. And the $2,200 asking price was a bargain.
The online seller assured the sale was legit, claiming he was a soldier soon deploying to Afghanistan and needed to unload the vehicle as soon as possible, rather than have it sit on base for the year.
As the old cliche goes, the deal was too good to be true.
Brodhead, 18, and his parents fell victim to the scam. And local investigators have told them, frankly, there's little they can do to find the scam artist, who could be anywhere in the world.
"Maybe this will stop this from happening to someone else," Donna Brodhead said recently at the family's Bradford Street, Wilkes-Barre, home
The pickup truck was to be the first vehicle Tim Jr. purchased on his own. Donna and Tim's father, Tim Sr., each loaned him $1,000 that the Meyers High School senior would repay.
The family was scammed after Tim responded to a posting about the pickup truck on the online classified advertisement website Craigslist. The seller, claiming to be a soon-to-be-deploying soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, posted that any sale would be facilitated by the online auction site eBay, which would act as a third party in the transaction.
Donna Brodhead said she felt "more comfortable" that eBay would be involved. Except, it wasn't.
After exchanging correspondences with the alleged seller via email, the family obtained an email that claimed to be from eBay that assured the sale would be covered by its Buyer Protection Program. The email directed the family to wire $2,200 to the supposed eBay representative via the wire transfer business Money Gram.
After the seller shipped the vehicle via Dependable Auto Shippers and the family received it, eBay would transfer money to the seller, who used the fake name Calvin Adams, the email said.
The family wired the $2,200 to a MoneyGram location in North Carolina on March 14 at 7:39 p.m. On March 15 at 12:37 p.m., the supposed third-party accepted the money.
The family then waited and waited. The vehicle never came. Recently, they reported the case to Wilkes-Barre police.
"I don't expect to see the money," Tim Jr. explained while showing a reporter the emails he and the scammer shared.
The Craigslist posting by the scam artist has disappeared. The person who was emailing from email@example.com no longer returns them. The email from eBay was a phony.
The family laments they were scammed for not being computer savvy and falling for a "too good to be true" opportunity.
A warning on eBay's website site says their vehicle purchase protection service "covers only certain vehicle transactions that are completed ON eBay.com. If a Craigslist seller 'promises' you eBay protection programs, walk away. It is fraudulent." A quick Google search about similar proposed transaction yields many examples of this type of scams targeting people all over the country.
It was an expensive lesson for the Brodhead family, Donna said.
"I'm just glad it wasn't more than that," she said.
EMAIL FROM SCAMMER
--- Forwarded Message ---
From: Calvin Adams
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 4:01 PM
Subject: Re: Red Dodge Dakota 00
"I'm involved in a military program currently located in Joint Base Lewis-McChord,WA due to military security reasons I'm restricted from leaving the unit's facility under any purpose and have strictly limited phone access. I am only allowed to check my email few times a day. I hope you can understand that we will have to stick to email for now. The vehicle is here with me at the base in but I've already made all the arrangements with DAS to pick it up from the base. DAS will also handle the title transfer for an extra $75.00.Being in the army has some advantages and one of them is the fact that I can ship it very cheap. I will pay for the shipping charges and the $75.00 fee for title transfer. The financial part of this sale will be managed by eBay for our own protection as they act as a neutral third part. eBay will keep the money until you inspect/drive the vehicle.
This is how the eBay works:
1. I will contact eBay and give all the info about this deal.
2. They will email us the forms by email -- about the buyer's protection policy, delivery, and payment.
3. You will send the payment to eBay and they will notify me to ship the vehicle to your location. The estimated time of delivery is 3 to 5 days, they will deliver the vehicle on a flatbed truck.
4. After you will inspect/drive the vehicle and decide to keep it, eBay will forward me the funds and the deal is done.
You have 5 days to test it from the day you receive it. If by any chance you won't be satisfied with it you will be fully refunded and I will have the shipping company come to pick it up and I have to pay the shipping back. If you wish to purchase it please provide me your full name, address so I can initiate the deal through eBay.
Good faith has always been my top priority and my most valued business approach.
Looking forward to hear from you!
Common warning signs:
n Sellers who want to move the transaction from one platform to another (for example, from Craigslist to eBay Motors).
n Sellers who claim that eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection covers an auto transaction conducted outside the eBay site.
n Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and request payments via quick wire transfer payment systems.
n Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
n Transactions in which the seller and vehicle are in different locations. Criminals often claim to have been transferred for work reasons, deployed by the military, or moved because of a family circumstance, and could not take the vehicle with them.
n Vehicles advertised at well below their market value. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
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(Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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