5 On Your Side

Creedmoor man says scammer tried to sell his truck on Craigslist

Posted April 13, 2011 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2011 11:51 a.m. EDT

Craigslist scammers prey on people looking for good deals on the popular classifieds website.

— 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."

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.