Buy A Car Online Scam

How the scam works:

Trying to buy a car online could be a disaster if you don’t pay attention. The best places to buy used cars online might turn out to be big disappointments. One of the most fraudulent moves around is the Buy A Car Online scam. Let’s take a look.

Scam Detectors Most Trusted Websites in Online Security
  1. (100): Surf the web safely. Clean up your browser, remove malicious extensions and check for privacy violations.
  2. (100): Delete your personal data from the internet and protect against scams and identity theft.
  3. ExpressVPN (100) Stay secure and anonymous online - Best VPN Out There

Let’s say you’re looking at purchasing a vehicle and check out the best Internet car buying sites. You have many options to buy a car online, including sites like Gumtree, Craigslist, Kijiji, Oodle, etc. As you finally found a great looking car that piques your interest, you decide to contact the seller. After a few hours, you receive the following answer:

My name is [any name] and I was an employee in [your country] for the last 2 years, that’s how I got the car. I shot a documentary there. Now I finished it and I moved back to Ireland where is my home and to bring the car here for registration I have to pay almost the price of the car so it’s to expensive. It is in excellent condition, no accidents, no scratches, no dents, no need for additional repairs, very well maintained. I agree to give you a few days to test it. The car is registered in [your country] so it will be a very easy process. If you decide to buy it I will bring it at your home address anywhere in [your country]. I will wait for your email if you are interested and have the funds ready. Thank you“.


Well, it seems like a decent fella, and a documentary maker? Cool, he sounds trustful. However, as you continue the conversation showing your interest and asking for the next step, he will respond:

I will be more than happy to show you the car, but I left the care at Gumtree garage and they will take care of the delivery to your address. I had a few transactions with them because of my work around the world and I am a verified seller on Gumtree so we can use their services for free. The price also includes 7-days trial period and all paperwork for registration. This means that Gumtree will take care of canceling the registration of my name and register the car on your behalf in [your country].

Now let me explain the process how this deal works. Once you confirm me you agree with the procedure, I will forward the details to Gumtree and they will contact you with all the details that you need to complete this deal and also to see that I am covered by them and that I am a verified seller. The car will be delivered to your home address once the payment is ready with insurance covered by me until you take the ownership, RWC, keys, logbooks, clear title, full service plan and all the papers signed.


Then he continues:

Payment will be made to Gumtree and not to me, I don’t ask any money in advance. After you send them the deposit once with the invoice (already signed by me) printed and signed you will receive the car in 3 working days and you will have 7 days to inspect and test the car with an mechanic. Please note that I also signed the notification of change of ownership (NCO). All the time, your money will be at Gumtree. At the end of the inspection period (7 days) you are forced to make a decision: keep the car and Gumtree will pay me or reject the car and you will get refunded to your bank account. I have two more persons interested in buying the car.

All I need from you is your full name, address, phone number and a copy of your passport so I can register you as potential buyer on Gumtree. As soon as I will get the requested details, I will send you a copy of my passport so you can be sure that I am a honest man. This is my phone number [his phone # here] and you can call me anytime you want. Thank you. Yours faithfully.

If it sounds good to you and decide to go ahead, here is how you’re going to get scammed. He says “Payment will be made yo Gumtree, and not to me”. That might throw you off as subconsciously you may trust Gumtree as a well-known brand. However, the scammer will impersonate a Gumtree real representative and contact you via email (with a fake Gumtree email address) and asking you for payment.

The scam varies as the crooks might even have a fake website looking like Gumtree where you can make your payment, so it may dissipate your doubts. Needless to say, after you pay you will never receive any car, let alone the fact that now the scammers have your passport and all your personal information.

How to avoid:

Never buy a car online without actually seeing it in person and taking it for a test drive. Call scammer’s bluff. Usually, when the “seller” of the car is not present for the transaction, it is the biggest red flag. Think about it: would YOU sell your $10,000 car without being there? The best places to buy used cars are great for the selection of the cars, but not for the quality of the ‘sellers’. Buying a used car online should be done with extreme caution and research.

How to report:

Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report Scammers To The Federal Trade Commission Here


How to protect yourself more:

If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

identity theft protection


1. Top 5 Amazon Scams in 2024
2. Top 5 PayPal Scams in 2024
3. How To Spot a Scam Email in 2024
selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

5 thoughts on “Buy A Car Online Scam”

  1. elchonon masher

    i’m in middle of driving crazy one of the scammers who wanted to buy a car from me but i should pay for the shipping and he is going to give me the money thru pay pal and i see the money in pay pal but it’s pending.

  2. Beware of this car scam in Canada for 1987 VW Westfalia
    We responded to an ad on Kijiji for a 1987 VW Westfalia van for $3000
    There was a phone number that we called. They did not answer the phone but texted to say they were helping their uncle. They gave us the email of the uncle [email protected] so we emailed the uncle. This is the response we received:
    Thank you for your interest in this 1987 VW Westfalia. Let me tell you a few words about the van. It is totally rust-free and in excellent condition, both inside and out. It has automatic transmission. The canvas top is original and it good condition, as are all of the utilities, including sink, two-burner stove and refrigerator.
    Recent upgrades include:
    – New shocks
    – New brakes
    – New tune and fluids
    – Replaced exhaust system (within last 4 years)
    – BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires
    This Westfalia is ready to travel or use as your daily driver. The van is registered in ON, the title is clean and you won’t have any problems registering the van in your name. I am selling the van because I am in the military and my unit will be sent back over the seas. I don’t want it get old in my garage. The price is low because I need to get rid of it as soon as possible.
    To conclude this deal in a timely manner, the financial part will be managed by uShip. I believe you know what uShip is if you buy and sell online often, if you don’t I’ll be glad to walk you through the process, let me know if you are still interested so I can get back to you with additional details. The van is available for local pickup or delivery and the price is $3000.

    Thanks for your time,
    Warrant Officer Peter West
    The grammar was a bit of a red flag but sometimes we all see that in quick emails/texts. We tried to arrange a meeting to see the car while we were in the Toronto area but never heard back. we followed up and this is what we received:
    I’m glad that you are still interested. I will do my best to explain you the whole process. At the moment I’m stationed at a Military Force Base, CFB Gagetown. The van is already at our Military Logistics Department from CFB Gagetown, NB ready to be delivered. uShip is like a third-party in our deal. I have signed a contract with uShip because they are able to take care of the whole sale (even if I am not there when the sale will take place), meaning that they will ship the van to your address and also will handle the payment for me. They will keep your money into a protection account until you get the van and will release it to me after you agree to keep it. The most important thing is that this company offers a return policy and to eliminate any concerns you will have 5 days to inspect the van. If by any reason the van is not as described, or if you find any problems with it I will pay for the returning fees and you will receive your money back. I’m sure it won’t be the case because the van is in excellent condition.

    To make this deal happen I must ask uShip to send you the terms and conditions/invoice, but before I can do that I need your approval. So in order to move forward with this deal I just need your full name, full shipping address and a contact number so I can register the deal with uShip, and after that they will contact you with further information on how to buy my van.

    The shipping costs and insurance during transportation are included in the price.

    Thanks for your time
    Warrant Officer Peter West
    My husband was very interested but new to online transactions so continued the email communication and ten the final red flag was:
    I have sent your details to uShip and I got the invoice copy. Can you please check your email for the invoice, also look into your bulk/spam folder too, sometimes messages get lost in there. They sent the invoice to both email addresses:

    Please read the invoice carefully so you can understand the entire process and let me know when you can complete this transaction so I can make all the arrangements for delivery.
    Also I have a friendly advise, don’t tell at the Bank office that this is the payment for a internet van purchase because both of us will be extra charged with some extra fees for making e-commerce. We can avoid paying this extra money. If the Bank teller ask you, just tell him that the money are for merchandise, according with instructions from uShip. I am not willing to spend some useless money, I hope you will understand why I am asking you this.

    Thanks for your time,
    Warrant Officer Peter West

    I then started to investigate by googling Military Logistics Department and found this was a scam in the US and some of the wording in the email was exactly the same!

    We emailed "Peter West" and said we were pursuing another vehicle and were no longer interested. I will be notifying the RCMP about this scam.

  3. Be aware of this scam I found on craigslist tonight….
    Hello there,
    My 2006 Toyota Corolla S Sedan , is still for sale. This car is in great
    shape. I’m the original owner. It has no damage, no scratches, dents or
    hidden defects. It is in immaculate condition, meticulously maintained
    and hasn’t been involved in any accident…Has only 63,430 miles, its
    automatic, with an 1.8L Gas, FWD, White exterior and Black interior. I
    have a clear title, without liens or loans on it, under my name. I am
    selling it at this final price of $2,000 because my husband died 1 month
    ago and it brings me bad memories and that’s the reason I want to sell
    it a.s.a.p. I want to use Amazon services for the safety of both of us
    so if you’re interested in purchasing this vehicle, I can notify Amazon
    that you are selected as my possible buyer and they will contact you to
    explain the entire procedure.
    Thank you, Cynthia Anderson

    In a reply email this is what I received and it made me suspicious….

    Hi again Pamela,
    As I have told you in previous email my husband died recently. I had to
    move out and now I am living with my parents in Lawrence, KS . At the
    moment they are the only ones I can rely on. The vehicle is at the
    shipping company sealed and ready for the shipping.
    The deal includes free delivery and it will arrive at your address in
    2-4 days.
    Once you will get the vehicle you will have 5 days to try it out prior
    to making any purchase.
    In the case that you feel that the vehicle is not suitable,you can just
    return it all fees being on my expense.
    When receiving it you will have as well all the documents including
    title, sale bill , 2 sets of keys, full service records and more. The
    title and the bill of sale will be notarized and signed by me.
    If you are interested in knowing more info about how it works, I can ask
    Amazon to send you an email with more information on how to purchase it.
    Please reply with your whole name, a delivery address including(street,
    city,state, zip code) and ph# and they will contact you right away. As
    soon as I hear that from you I will initiate the transaction through them.
    Have a great day,
    Cynthia Anderson

  4. Here is what I received, beware of this clown posting a fake Lexus on (and probably on many other sites):


    First of all I want to thank you for your interest in my 2008 Lexus IS250. Engine: 2.5L V6. The car has been extremely well maintained with a full service history, it only has 74,733 miles! Transmission is automatic. The vehicle has all of its original floor mats, all books, complete set of tools and keys. Everything works in the car lights, gauges, radio, windows, locks, a/c blows ice cold, etc. It has no leaks or drips and does not smoke at all, slightly used in 100% working and looking conditions with a clear title free of liens. It has new tires.

    I bought it when I was serving in U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Havelock, NC and now I am deployed in Havelock, NC. The car will be delivered from here, it is stored in a military compound.

    I have dropped my price to $3,000 (purchase price) including delivery and handling to your address, since this is an urgent sale, it will be delivered free of charge through a military transportation service to a designated location of your choice, average delivery time is 2-3 business days, depending on destination. It has been reduced because I need to find a buyer before my upcoming deployment take place and I don’t want to waste more time negotiating.

    If you’re interested to conclude this purchase in a timely manner please email me your: full name, shipping address and phone number, to open a case with eBay Motors. 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. Using eBay Motors service we are both 100% covered during the steps of this transaction.

    To support my argument regarding the condition of the car please visit the following photo album:

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Sgt. Frank Conner
    > USMC ANG 116 AMXS

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *