WRAL Investigates

Craigslist scammers tug at heart strings before taking money

Posted February 22, 2011
Updated February 23, 2011

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— Craigslist scammers prey on people looking for good deals on the popular classifieds website. A Triangle woman looking for a car found a seller with a sad story but later discovered that the ads and the pictures were fake.

Emily Iversen, of Raleigh, wanted to help her mother find a car. They searched on Craigslist.

"I put in a search for a Forester or a CRV," Iversen said. "I saw this amazing, like, this can't be true, deal."

She contacted the seller and got this reply: "Automatic transmission. It's in perfect condition. Exterior no scratches. Interior no rips, tears, stains."

The seller was asking $3,900.

"Who wouldn't jump at that opportunity?" Iversen asked.

The seller also included personal details in her reply. She wrote that the car belonged to her son, who died in a bike accident, and that she just wanted to get rid of it because of the memories it brought her.

There was a link to pictures and a vehicle identification number, but when Iversen talked to her mother about it, she discovered an interesting twist.

Her mother had found a different car on Craigslist and had a nearly identical exchange with the seller.

"Red flags. Ding ding ding," Iversen said.

craiglist scams Craigslist scammers tug at heart strings before taking money

A quick Internet search showed Iversen that it's a common scam. A scam-reporting website showed a Honda motorcycle, horse trailer and tractor all for sale at bargain prices and all from people who said their son or husband died in Iraq.

Each ad requested payment through "eBay's vehicle purchase protection program," which, according to eBay, doesn't exist.

"It was sickening. I got a feeling in my stomach that just made me sick that someone's doing this to all these people," Iversen said.

She and her mother contacted 5 On Your Side to get the word out.

"See the car. Take it for a ride. See the service records. See what it has instead of just reading about it," she said.

See advice from Craigslist about avoiding scams here.

17 Comments

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  • superman Feb 23, 7:02 p.m.

    If you watch the court shows on TV--you know that used cars are always sold "As is". If they say that will warrant something on the car-- get it in writing on the Bill of Sale" Spend a little more and have a mechanic to check it out before you buy. If you buy a car from an indivual even if he says he will warrant something--you might have to take him to court to have him honor it. Best bet-is a used car lot. At least if they tell you something or you have it in writing-- they are apt to be there next week when you go back. Cars are like computers they are apt to break down without notice so if you buy a used car you can expect repairs.

  • superman Feb 23, 6:29 p.m.

    Crags list Face Book-- whatever-- a fool and his/her money are soon parted. You have to be stupid to send money for something you never seen and dont even know that it exist. United Way and all those organizations are no better. High paid people making a living off your contributions. Give till it hurts!

  • Jammer512 Feb 23, 3:41 p.m.

    Facebook has broken up more marriages than you could possibly believe. Exgirlfriends and Exboyfriends have no business in your married business. Do us all a favor and get rid of both sites." - massdaddy

    If you think Facebook is breaking up marriages then you are far to simplistic, if a person gets a divorce because they found on old flame on Facebook then they would have gotten a divorce sooner or later and with or without Facebook, Facebook is no more or less responsible for cheating spouses than bars and alcohol.

  • br549znc Feb 23, 1:47 p.m.

    Exactly, Raleigh72.

  • Raleigh72 Feb 23, 1:25 p.m.

    What kind of imbecile would buy a car without looking at it or driving it first?

  • monkeyboy Feb 23, 12:57 p.m.

    "Craigslist and Facebook need to be removed from our society. Craigslist has sexual predators and scammers all over it. Facebook has broken up more marriages than you could possibly believe. Exgirlfriends and Exboyfriends have no business in your married business. Do us all a favor and get rid of both sites." - massdaddy

    well sure, let's just all turn the clock back to a simpler time, a time of barn dances and buggy rides. scams, infidelity and sexual predators never existed before these evil sites. personal actions and motives NEVER had anything to do with it...

    isn't that what the taliban want in the muslim world, to turn back time and pretend we're not really living in 2011? good to know there are people here lacking common sense as well.

  • Massdaddy Feb 23, 12:36 p.m.

    Craigslist and Facebook need to be removed from our society. Craigslist has sexual predators and scammers all over it. Facebook has broken up more marriages than you could possibly believe. Exgirlfriends and Exboyfriends have no business in your married business. Do us all a favor and get rid of both sites.

  • hollylama Feb 23, 11:39 a.m.

    A lot of ads for cars and electronics are fake. If the ad doesn't have a location listed then its likely a fake.

  • bmg379 Feb 23, 11:11 a.m.

    This is pathetic and sounds like the episode of Andy Griffith when Barney buys the piece of junk from the widow...

    remember the bolt rising up out of the steering column when Barney was driving

  • bmg379 Feb 23, 11:10 a.m.

    a friend saw a million dollar home for rent in kinda the same way on craigslist,as mom said ,anything that sounds too good to be true is

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