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Online Used Car Schemes


While many of us associate online scams with spyware, the theft of credit card information, catfishing, and luring users to phony websites, the internet has also proven to be potentially dangerous to used car buyers. Although this type of conduct is often more difficult to prosecute than in-person schemes, it is possible to hold used car sellers accountable for fraud committed online. To learn more about online used car scams that you should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced used car fraud legal team for assistance.

Using Online Auto Sales Websites

One of the most common online used car schemes involves the use of auto sales websites to advertise used vehicles at sharply discounted prices. Once the scammer has listed the vehicle on the sales or auction site, he or she will include information that seems legitimate, such as the car’s mileage and VIN. Unfortunately, in many cases, this information isn’t real, but has been copied from another online listing. Most people don’t buy vehicles sight unseen, so even if a scammer manages to garner interest in a product, he or she must still convince the interested party to purchase without inspection. In situations where the perpetrator of the fraudulent scheme doesn’t actually have a car to sell, he or she will tell the buyer that the vehicle has already been loaded and crated for shipping. To soothe any fears of fraud, the seller will claim that the vehicle is protected under a third party company’s protection program and that in the event that the buyer doesn’t like the vehicle upon seeing it, the company will refund all of the buyer’s money.

At this point in this kind of scheme, the fraudulent seller will explain that the vehicle protection program company will be in contact with the buyer to arrange payment. The perpetrator will then use a fake email address to send a message that contains payment information and a tracking number and even directs the buyer to a phony website that seems legitimate. Some scammers have even gone so far as to make complete copies of legitimate websites and then host them at different domain names. In many cases, buyers are not even aware that they are the victims of a used car fraud scam until they contact the fake third party delivery company about their vehicle and find out that it doesn’t exist.

This type of conduct is unlawful and leads to the loss of thousands of dollars for victims every year. For this reason, it is important for consumers who are considering buying a used car to remain vigilant for signs of an online scam, which could include:

  • A claim from the seller that he or she is deployed or working overseas and so has to sell the vehicle quickly;
  • The vehicle is listed at a fraction of its book price;
  • The seller requires that payments be sent to a third party;  or
  • The seller requires payment via anonymous wire transfer.

If you were taken advantage of by a used car seller as part of an online scam, you could be eligible for compensation. Please call our legal team today to learn more.

Contact an Experienced Used Car Fraud Attorney

To speak with a dedicated used car lawyer about your own case, please contact Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com today. Our skilled Philadelphia legal team is eager to assist you today.



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