5 On Your Side

Creedmoor man says scammer tried to sell his truck on Craigslist

Posted April 13, 2011
Updated April 14, 2011

Craigslist scammers prey on people looking for good deals on the popular classifieds website.
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— Internet classified sites are great places to find deals and sell stuff you don't want anymore, but they're also a good place to find scams.

5 on Your Side has warned many times about car-buying and home rental scams. Usually, the scammer lifts a real ad from the Internet, but changes details and adds their contact information.

If you send money, it's gone.

But the scam Rod Ellen unknowingly became part of is a little different.

Ellen says he loves “everything” about his truck.

Who wouldn't? It’s loaded with all kinds of features – and from the inside, it doesn’t even look like a truck.

It is not for sale, despite a call Ellen got from a man in California.

“He said, 'Are you trying to sell your Tundra?' I said, 'No, I'm not.' He said, 'Well, it's listed in Los Angeles on Craigslist,” Ellen said.

The ad price: $10,500. That’s about a third of what Ellen says it's worth.

Turns out, the call was from a police officer who got suspicious after an email exchange with the supposed "seller."

craigslist scam Creedmoor man says scammer tried to sell his truck on Craigslist

The scammer told the officer that the truck was paid off, that he had the "title in hand" and was just trying to dump it because of a divorce. He said the truck was in his garage in Durham. The scammer even emailed the CarFax report of Ellen's car.

The police officer used the VIN from the report to track down Ellen.

“I mean how did somebody get my VIN number? That was my question because that's the only way you would know it's mine,” Ellen said.

He called it "eerie" and said he had his truck serviced less than three weeks earlier and wonders if that is the connection.

Ellen is still trying to piece it together and worries about unsuspecting buyers who might lose money.

“People need to know that this is going on,” he said. "Obviously, I would not have known it had this gentleman not been a policeman in Brentwood, Calif., and gone to the trouble to call me.”

So consider this a reminder that you really have to be careful anytime you do business through the Internet, and when people only communicate through email, that's a red flag.

These scammers realize that having specific and accurate information – like in the case with Rod Ellen's truck – makes the whole thing seem more legitimate.

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  • koolbike1 Apr 20, 2011

    "and when people only communicate through email, that's a red flag."

    What is that supposed to mean? Most people communicate by the internet because they would get fiired if their boss knew they were doing business while at work! I do 90% of my business via email, and I am not a crook.
    I do agree with the article though. I listed my motorcycle on Craigslist a few months ago, and all I got was spam. One even was just like the article, asking if I had the title in hand and where it was located. Better reason to be anonymous and lilimt your contact.

  • puttputtstick Apr 15, 2011

    I recently listed an item on craigslist and received the usual scammer response (including bad grammer) of sending a cashiers check for more than the amount of the item I had for sale. I just go along with it and give them the address for the state attorney general Roy Cooper state fraud reporting. After a few more emails I give them a bogus western union number for the returned funds they requested. I figure why not waste there time a little.

  • lucky2bme Apr 15, 2011

    I posted my daughter's wedding dress, never worn or alterd, a few weeks ago on Craigslist. Almost immediately I received an email wanting to know if the dress was still available. They said they were out of the country as they were a "journalist" and would be back in the country soon. They were going to send me a cashiers check and then have someone pick it up to ship to them. Their writing and grammer were terrible, considering they were a "journalist." After I told them I only excepted cash, I never heard from them again! I could also tell from the signature they were somewhere in Europe. BEWARE people.

  • kawasaki333 Apr 15, 2011

    If you're selling or buying, never respond to the tricks about they are out of the country or involved in a funeral, etc....and to just send your full name and address. They also usually tell you to consider it sold, and they will pay extra for your trouble. If they won't call you and stay on first name basis, beware.