Buyer Beware: Online car scam leaves West Ashley woman out of car and cash

The Investigators

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – If you are thinking of buying a car online you may want to think twice. Crooks are posting phony listings in hopes of scamming you out of your money.

Laurie Skelly saved up for a car for three years before she took to Facebook Marketplace to find the perfect one.

“It was a 2003 Toyota Camry,” Skelly said. “It looked pristine, it had low mileage, and it was the right price.”

Skelly messaged the seller who explained that she had received the car as part of a divorce settlement but needed to offload it quickly because she was being deployed overseas.

The seller said a second party site claiming to be eBay Motors would handle the $1,000 transaction.

“I was a little skeptical so I waited and hesitated and people at work were saying that is such a great deal,” she said. “So I contacted back to her and that is when the whole transaction occurred.”

Skelly was instructed to buy two $500 gift cards and email the pin numbers to the alleged eBay Motors representative. The representative asked for an additional $1,000 for shipping. Growing skeptical, Skelly asked for a refund but never heard back.

Bailey Parker with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said Skelly’s case is textbook.

“Scammers are going to use whatever is most convincing or they are going to pull on your heartstrings,” Parker said. “So they are going to say, ‘Oh I’m in the military or something terrible happened to my family and I need to get rid of this car.'”

Form of payment she said is often the biggest red flag.

“It is almost near impossible to track the money and the information about the people who are doing these fake transactions. Gift cards, once you put that cash on there, it’s cash, it’s your money, and once you give over your money it’s gone,” she said.

Skelly is warning others to think twice before jumping on that too good to be true deal.

“It feels horrible. You don’t want what I am feeling to be passed on to someone else. You feel like you’re an idiot. You have lived this long and you trust in people and they destroy your trust,” she said.

Detectives with the Charleston Police Department said the department receives up to two reports of car scams a week and urges victims to report the crime as soon as it happens.

The Charleston Police Department is currently investigating Skelly’s case.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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