It’s no secret that selling your vehicle can include many obstacles. The truth is, persistent criminals tend make these transactions that much harder. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has issued a warning to the public about an organized scam involving sales of vehicles through online marketplace Craigslist. NICB has identified nearly 100 instances of sales of vehicles that went bad when phony checks were used to pay for the vehicle. It seems that scammers are particularly active in states where the vehicle owner retains the title even though there is an outstanding lien. They pressure sellers to sign over the title and give them what appears to be a valid bank or cashier’s check to pay for the vehicle. The bad checks that they’re using are good fakes: at first banks say they’re valid, but only after the thieves have disappeared with the vehicle do the sellers find out the checks are bogus.
With the scams being so well organized and appearing to be legitimate, NICB advises anyone trying to sell or buy a vehicle on Craigslist to follow the site’s very specific guidelines. NICB counsels that face-to-face meetings should take place at a highly public location, preferably a police station. “Never sign over a title until you have the money in hand. Avoid accepting any kind of check, but if you do, take the time to make sure any alleged bank or cashier’s check has actually cleared and you have the cash. It could take a week to 10 days for a check to clear. If it’s bogus, you could be left responsible for paying off the loan even though the car is long gone,” according to an NICB press statement.
“NICB Warns of Widespread Craigslist Auto Sales Scam.” Multivu. NICB, 8 May 2015. Web. 30 June 2015.