Allison here, with AllClear ID. Awhile back we warned of a scam targeting vehicle shoppers on Edmunds. Now those of you thinking of making purchase on Craigslist anytime soon need to exercise caution. There is a scam going on involving Google Checkout and those who wish to make purchases out of state. If you fall for it, the scammer ends up with your identity including name and address, plus your money, while you get nothing in return.

How this Internet scam works is that the scammer lists something on Craigslist, commonly a motor vehicle like an ATV, a pickup truck, or a small vehicle like a Nissan Altima or a motorcycle. One thing to notice is that the scammer will sell the item well below market value, and will have some story as to why they are selling it so cheaply. Once you indicate interest, the scammer will tell you that the vehicle is ready for shipping to your address from an out-of-state location. All you have to do is give the scammer your name and shipping address, and then everything will be set up via Google Checkout.

If you ask to see the vehicle, motorcycle etc., the scammer will say that it’s already in storage ready to be shipped, so you can’t meet them or take a look at it. Sometimes, the scammer will say that they are on a military base about to be deployed, which is why they need to sell quickly or why they cannot meet. All you have to do is provide the information to Google Checkout, and then you will have a quick grace period in which to test the vehicle and to make a final decision. In the meantime, Google Checkout will hang on to the money until you give Google Checkout the go ahead.

The entire story is a scam. Once you put the money into Google Checkout, you won’t see it again. Keep in mind that Google Checkout is a legitimate service; however, these scammers are using a dummy Google Checkout to get their money. Online threads show that this scam has been going on for over 18 months, in states all over the country, and it is still going right now. Here are a few warning signs to watch out for if you’re planning to make a purchase of an ATV, tractor, motorcycle, car, or any other vehicle via Craigslist:

  • If you are unable to take a look at the vehicle before purchase
  • If the vehicle is being sold below market value
  • If they ask for you to pay before you even have the vehicle, or have seen it
  • There’s a grace period for you to test the care and make a decision
  • Vehicle is located in a state different from the one advertised in on Craigslist

If you are in the market for a vehicle, make an in-state purchase, or avoid doing it on Craigslist all together. If you find an ad and the correspondence you have seems too good to be true, then it probably is.