Joined: Oct 14, 2009
  • Threads: 1428
  • Posts: 24479
January 27th, 2011 at 10:15:11 PM permalink
My brother in law is looking to buy a used car in the $4,000 price range. I tried to help him so I went on Craig's List and looked at the used cars in the Las Vegas section. Two seemed to be very under-priced so I inquired about them by Email. Here are the replies I received:

Reply #1

The car runs and look very well! I need to sell my car quickly due to the economic times. I have a baby to feed and bills to pay. The baby's father left us and contributes nothing to the baby's
support. All I have is this car and I need the money more than I need the transportation. I'm living in Glasgow,MT and I can ship it to your location. I wait your reply if you are interested.

Some info about the car: price $2,800,automatic,Engine: 6 Cyl,Drivetrain: 2WD,,131,000 miles,Exterior Color: Silver,Interior Color: Black,Fuel: Gasoline,Doors: 4.

Best regards,

Reply #2

I am selling this car because my battalion has been sent back to Afghanistan and don't want it get old in my backyard. The price is low because I need to sell it before February 7th. It has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects. It is in immaculate condition, meticulously maintained and hasn't been involved in any accident...I do have the title, clear, under my name. The Camry has 32,000 current miles VIN# 4T1BK46K07U027216.
It is still available for sale if interested, price as stated in the ad $4,840. The car is in Lakewood WA, in case it gets sold I will take care of shipping. Let me know if you are interested, email back.Below are the car details, also link with more photos and copy of carfax report. If the link doesn't work,copy and paste it into a new browser page.
Vehicle title: Clear
Body type: SEDAN 4DR
Engine: 3.5L V6 FI DOHC 24V
Exterior color: Silver
Transmission: Automatic FWD
Fuel type: Gasoline
Interior color: Gray
You can find more pics at:

LTC Carol Miller


Two heart-breaking stories and two cars I would need to have shipped here. Certainly there are people in WA and MT who need a used car, especially one that is worth twice the asking price. Something smells fishy.

I'm posting this in the advice category, but am not sure if I'm asking for it or giving it. Anyone in Vegas with a decent car in the $4,000 range -- let me know.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
Joined: Nov 17, 2009
  • Threads: 236
  • Posts: 6763
January 27th, 2011 at 10:23:36 PM permalink
I recall that we have a few board members who are in Washington state. Perhaps they are close enough to pay seller #2 a visit and verify if the condition of the car matches the photos and description. If it checks out, that is a pretty fair deal.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
Joined: May 21, 2010
  • Threads: 23
  • Posts: 480
January 27th, 2011 at 10:23:58 PM permalink
I've purchased cars from CL (driving one now) and what you've run across is a fairly recent version of an old scam.

Once you let them know you'd like the car they send you a cheque to cover the cost of shipping and other incidentals. They tell you that once the car arrives in your neck of the woods they'll have a friend take care of the paperwork. Once you receive the cheque you notice something is a little strange... the amount of the cheque is more than is needed to ship the car. You call this person and they tell you not to worry, just cash the cheque, keep whatever you need to cover costs and send back the rest to them (usually by money order). So, thinking that everything is on the up and up, you deposit the cheque into your account, keep enough to cover the costs of shipping ect... and send the balance (usually $500-$1,000 or so) back to your contact.

Then you never hear from the contact again and a week later your bank informs you that the cheque was bad. Oops.

CL really is a great place to find a good used car as long as you're willing to put in a little effort and be diligent in confirming ownership and the condition of the car.
Happiness is underrated
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
  • Threads: 434
  • Posts: 25333
January 27th, 2011 at 10:27:20 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Certainly there are people in WA and MT who need a used car, especially one that is worth twice the asking price. Something smells fishy.

Yup. The whole point of Craigs list is its local and you can see what you're buying. My brother just bough a nice van last month from the list, went and looked at it and drove it home. Why would anybody 'ship' a cheap vehicle, it make no sense. Sell it in the city where it sits.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
Joined: Nov 13, 2009
  • Threads: 9
  • Posts: 282
January 27th, 2011 at 11:20:36 PM permalink
Run away. Very fast.

Why does someone in Washington (using the second example) need to advertise to people in Vegas? There are plenty of people in Washington who are looking for used cars. And a 2007 Camry V6 with 37,000 stated miles for under $5k? I don't need no Kelly Blue Book to tell me that's too good to be true.

The used car market is always one of imperfect information -- the seller always knows more about the car than the buyer does. At least with local sellers you can inspect the car and try to assess the character of the seller. That said, the market is pretty efficient, and there is a general market-clearing price for a given make and model in "typical" condition, with adjustments made for cars with obvious blemishes. Any offer off this price should be heavily scrutinized.

With some work (essentially, spending the value of your time) you might find a $5000 car for $4000, but not a true $8000 car for $4000.
Joined: Aug 8, 2010
  • Threads: 65
  • Posts: 3412
January 27th, 2011 at 11:22:31 PM permalink
The cost to ship a vehicle say, 1,000 miles would be a significant percentage of the purchase price of the car. If the seller is absorbing that, AND selling the car at fire-sale prices, something is fishy. Either this is an out-and-out scam, or there's something not good about the car(s) that will only be apparent once the transaction is completed and the car is shipped.

If Person A is truly broke and desperate, then how would she get the money to ship the car? She would probably be counting on the buyer to do that for her, or for the buyer to pay in full before the car is shipped, which even if this was a completely legitimate, above-board transaction, would have about 500 things that could go wrong. Then there is the issue of titling and registration....

Person B actually sounds more likely to be legitimate, but the price is suspiciously low. Camrys are popular cars. There's no reason why she couldn't advertise it at, say, $1,000 below Blue Book and sell it locally very quickly.

Neither of these passes the "smell test"....
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
Joined: Apr 19, 2010
  • Threads: 53
  • Posts: 5936
January 27th, 2011 at 11:32:15 PM permalink
I've brought cars from Craigslist. I've always gotten to drive the car, and check it out first. If I can't at least do that, I don't care what the deal is, it's not going to work for me. And it shouldn't work for you.

I've had "legitimate" dealers try to sell me cars from another city via pictures and descriptions. I've told them it's pointless... we have cars out here as well, and I can buy there, or I'll make a trip if they have such good deals. They never do.

My current car is a CL car, she's a beauty and I got it for about 15% under the recommended price. I may have overlooked some good reasons why it was under (well apart from the $100 I'm going to have to pay for a new set of keys and $50 on an oil change, but I normally expect to have to do a little work on a new second hand car) but there are good bargains out there in your town.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
Joined: Jan 1, 2011
  • Threads: 30
  • Posts: 454
January 27th, 2011 at 11:41:11 PM permalink
A doctor buddy of mine bought a tractor on Craig's list, got a great deal on it. He sent some parts out for repair and got a knock on the door from the FBI who confiscated it... stolen, and now he is out $14,000.



Craig's List (LIVE version, even better...)

Craig's List !!!

"You got a 65
Chevy Malibu,
common, baby, c'mon!!"

The difference between zero and the smallest possible number? It doesn't matter; once you cross that edge, it might as well be the difference between zero and 1. The difference between infinity and reality? They are mutually exclusive.
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
  • Threads: 434
  • Posts: 25333
January 28th, 2011 at 1:06:02 AM permalink
Quote: discflicker

stolen, and now he is out $14,000.

I read somewhere that Craig's List is the new fence for stolen goods, way faster than Ebay and much safer. Priced right, you can sell a stolen snow blower or shotgun or tool set the day after you get it and its long gone by the time the cops even know its stolen.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
Joined: Dec 27, 2010
  • Threads: 49
  • Posts: 4448
January 28th, 2011 at 1:45:09 AM permalink
Yar, I'm with the 'too good to be true' side. Craig's List can be used to your benefit, but best to do it on the side of caution. I've no stats to quote, and have only used it once personally, but I generally think people with whom I have no history with are out to screw me, at least in the financial sense. Assuming the 'way too cheap car, all the way across the country' is legit, buying a car sight unseen isn't the safest thing to do, even if the seller is a straight shooter. Yeah it might be structually sound, have wicked low miles, new tires and even a complimentary pair of fuzzy dice, but whoops! did I forget to mention we accidentally spilled some 'doe in heat' urine inside on our last hunting trip? Buyer beware.
On one hand you have the chance to save a few grand, with the risk of losing EVERYTHING if its hot, or having to repair unseen issues that'll raise the cost to a dealership, only without the possible warranty, lemon law protection, etc.
On the other hand, you can pay the guaranteed extra from a reputable dealer, but have peace of mind that there won't be any unknown catastrophic issues with your purchase. It's kind of a risk / reward thing, which I'm sure you're familiar with. In this case, the cross-country-Craig is a bad bet.
If your adamant about going non-dealer, for whatever reason, then use Craig. Things come and go on there like hotcakes, just wait until one is in your location i.e. close enough to drive to and check out before buying. Good luck to you, sir.

You may also be able to do some detective work on this or future purchases. Ask for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Anyone with moderate knowledge should cough it up immediately as there is no risk in doing so. People often ask to for this to obtain an insurance quote before purchasing. Not supplying it is more than enough reason to stop right there. If they give it, look it up. The VIN is basically a code that describes the car. Certain letters/numbers in certain areas define specific attributes to that car, such as engine size, body style, year made, whether it has power accessories or not, etc. Look up that particular VIN and see if what comes back matches the car advertised. If not, go no further. If they do all that, try CarFacts. This is where I'm not positive as things may have changed, but the last truck I bought came with a CarFacts report which contained information of a more personal nature, such as where it was originally purchased from and the location of the purchaser (who should now be the seller). If CarFacts says it was sold to some guy in Maine, yet this guy is peddling it from Washington State...you get the point. Give it a shot. If everything comes back good and all things match, then you can lessen the chances of schemes and scams and begin pondering the other 100 risks of buying sight unseen. Again, good luck to you.
The opinions of this moderator are for entertainment purposes only.

  • Jump to: