How the scam works:
You are interested in buying a specific car and are in negotiations with the salesperson. After long discussions and a test drive, you mention you think the price is still too high. The agent lets you believe thay can drop the price even lower than you had expected, but requires one more thing to check this final great price with the manager, who doesn't happen to be there at the time.
The salesperson will ask you for a check as proof that you are serious about the purchase to show to the manager when they are back. The next day the dealership calls you to say, they're sorry but the manager didn't approve the deal, and you are invited back to pick up your check.
When you get there, they seem to have “misplaced” your check or the check is with their financing manager, who is not there at the time, or it's in the safe and the person with the keys has the day off. This way, they are trying to hold your interest in buying that specific car, or offering you “deals” on other models.
How to avoid:
Never leave a check. The fact that you negotiated so hard should be a guarantee for them that you are serious enough about the purchase.
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