(WSPA) – An Upstate mother has a message for anyone looking to buy a car online: watch out for scams.
Imposters pretending to be with the popular site eBay motors tricked her out of her stimulus check, and now she wants to make sure you don’t fall victim.
“I was very excited. We’ve never had a nice car,” said Kimberley Land.
The Pendleton mother-of-two says she is pretty used to being left stranded by clunkers on the side of the road.
“It’s just, you know, when you don’t think something couldn’t happen to you, it will,” said Land.
But when she found a 2007 Nissan Altima selling on eBay for the same exact amount as her stimulus check, she thought she had finally caught a break.
“I was just so excited about the car, I still thought it was real. I even asked my sister. I asked my brother-in-law. I asked several people and I showed them the emails and they thought it was just as real,” said Land.
In email exchanges the seller sent photos and explained the car was in “good condition” with a “clean title” and even gave a reason for the low price. The seller wrote “I’m selling it at this final price of $1,200 because my husband passed away 2 months ago (he had a heart attack).”
“I was like this is too good to be true. So I just went ahead with the process,” said Land.
Looking back, she admits she didn’t put the brakes on the scam because she was blinded by a hope that bordered on desperation.
Car dealers like Tyler Gibson with Gibson Auto & RV Sales in Greenville said with the recent shortage of used cars, more buyers are desperate, and car selling scams are on the rise.
“There’s so much scamming going on even just locally,” said Gibson.
He says the biggest red flag is price.
“If it’s too good to be true on a price, nobody is giving away vehicles right now. Vehicles are outrageous right now. So if it’s a too good to be true on a price you definitely need to look out for that,” said Gibson.
Gibson says other telltale signs of a car sale scam include:
- offers of free shipping
- excuses for not calling or meeting in person
- and using gift cards as payment.
Unfortunately, Land didn’t know any of those warning signs.
“And when she said eBay card, I said, cool, that’s easy because I don’t have a bank account or debit card or nothing,” Land told 7News.
So, as instructed, Land gave the gift card numbers to who she thought was a representative with eBay Motors. And, as so often happens, she was hit with another scam: an email claiming to be from eBay saying she had to pay $800 for insurance to get the car.
This time, Land wasn’t having it.
“So, after that, I said I need my money back and they wouldn’t answer no more, he blocked my number,” said Land.
To prevent scammers from doing a number on you, always ask for the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. You can then enter that into an online national database like NICB.org to verify it’s the right make and model and not stolen.
You can also drag and drop the car photos into Google images to see if they appear anywhere else online.
Land can’t help thinking, if only she had known.
“It was awful because, that was me and my daughter’s stimulus, that’s all I had. It was the whole $1,200. I was devastated I didn’t know what to do,” said Land.
In a statement, eBay told 7News it “helps buyers validate that the car exists ‘as listed'” and even offers a “money back guarantee and vehicle protection program” but that only applies to transactions completed “on the eBay platform.”
Land’s hope for a new car is crushed.
“My niece she said, well, Kim, why don’t you just contact News Channel 7, 7 On Your Side, and give the story and it lets all the other people know.”
But her new wish is to help others avoid the pain of getting tricked out of money you can’t afford to lose.