Scam alert: phony car sales on Craigslist.
If you are thinking about selling your car online, especially on Craigslist, beware of a scam that pays you with bogus bank checks.
Insurance fraud watchdog National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), working with law enforcement agencies in the Midwest, has identified nearly 100 such fraudulent sales, including one in which a couple lost their 2010 Chevrolet Corvette.
Luckily, this couple got their car back when the thieves offered it for sale, also on Craigslist, but you might not be so lucky.
The scammers pay with bogus checks that look real enough to fool the teller taking the deposit. The bad guys already have your car by the time the bank figures out the check is phony, and they delete the bad check funds from your account. Your car is gone, and so is the money you thought you were getting.
Keep the title until the check clears
Scammers are especially active in states where the vehicle owner retains the title even if there is an outstanding lien.
Whether you are selling a car on Craigslist or via any other online site, never sign over a title until you have the money in hand. That means cash in hand, or notice from your bank that the check has cleared, which could take a week to ten days. If the buyer objects, consider that a tip-off to a rip-off.
Craigslist even posts very specific guidelines for buying or selling a car on their website.
Any time you are buying a vehicle privately, on Craigslist or from another seller, check the vehicle’s VIN number on the NICB website, for FREE, to be sure you aren’t buying a stolen vehicle.
Medical frauds and free vacation frauds
If you have information about insurance fraud or vehicle theft, report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), or text “fraud” to TIP411 (847411).
NICB also has a free mobile app so you can text or email reports of suspected insurance fraud, including medical insurance fraud.
Another bogus scheme to watch out for is the free vacation deal. Don’t believe it if somebody calls you with an offer of a free Bahamas cruise or a free trip to Disneyland.
Note: This article appeared originally on She Buys Cars, written by ecoXplorer editor Evelyn Kanter.