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Hagerty Employee

7 ways to ensure you won't get scammed when buying a car

The gang at Hagerty Media occasionally interacts with our readers outside of this website's comments section, be it at the Lounge in the Hagerty Community, or in an email/phone call behind the scenes.
102 REPLIES 102
Pit Crew

How convenient to see this story .... Today I received a text that girls dad was interested in a vehicle I had for sale , him via email and gave an address ....His reply email stated he worked for the military and his rank and he wasn't allowed to contact outside people only by email and he was buying this car for his brother for a surprise . A few naive questions and he had a carrier that would transport the car once all formalities were done .. I will guarantee , he will not be contacting me again and my reply was not what he expected ...... eastern ontario .........

I have replied several times to scammers with get a real job, do people still fall for this crap? and my favorite eat **bleep** & die.

I can only offer four pieces of advice.
1. If the car is advertised as mint. Don't go anywhere near it. This is the most misused word in the collector car business. Notice I didn't say hobby because it's not a hobby any more.
2. If the car is advertised as a driver my experience is it's barely able to drive and needs a ton of work.
3. Some networking. See if someone you know can look at the vehicle or actually knows the vehicle. I was looking at a 1951 Studebaker Champion convertible and while discussing the car with the owner he happened to mention the motor was rebuilt. I asked who did the engine. It turned out the number one guy rebuilding Champion engines did the work. I know this man very well even though he is many states away. I called this fellow and asked if he knew this Stude I was looking at. He told me the car was a garaged kept rust free beauty. Called the owner back and bought the car sight unseen. When the vehicle arrived it met my every expectation.
4. But cars in the dead of winter. Especially in January and February. That's when the bargains surface. Don't go looking for a convertible in May.

My brother recently sold a vehicle and was inundated with fraudulent offers to purchase. Here are a couple of my favorites:
"I'm in the hospital right now but I'm buying it for my son who will love it! I'll pay full asking, sight unseen and will have a shipper pick it up. I will only pay via PayPal"
The next one was interesting:
"I insist on a vehicle history report from XYZ website (that nobody has ever heard of). Offered a Carfax report, but was refused - "had to be from XYZ site". Offered the VIN so they could run it themselves but was told that my brother "HAD to do it" since he was the owner. We suspect the site would steal any info he entered into it.
Ended up selling it to someone who stopped to look at it while it was parked for sale at the end of his driveway....the old fashioned way! Worked out great.
Intermediate Driver

Fortunately, I only buy cars in the Wal Mart parking lot at night with cash and the promise that it just passed smog the other day.

New Driver

I am currently selling two (2) vintage Mercedes-Benz vehicles on MBCCA. Within 24-hours the questionable emails & texts arrived.....usually with an offer to pay full price using cashiers check. I respond with this simple message to weed out scammers:

"Due to pervasive fake cashiers check scams my terms of sale include cashiers check being HELD until it clears my bank which can take 21 business days before I release car or title. Are you agreeable to those terms? Please let me know. Thank you."

Hagerty Employee

I think scammers are a bit more prevalent than people realize. When selling my 69 Pontiac, I had a handful of potential buyers from out of state that I just had a really bad feeling about it. One of them was even willing to buy it sight unseen, no inspection and would have his lawyer send a purchase agreement. That one felt kinda off. Face to face with cash is always the safest bet.

Intermediate Driver

Once, back in 1979 I was buying a 1972 Mercedes 250 Coupe, went to the owners' home, saw the car and even drove it. I live in NY and the car had FLA. plates. The car was great and price reasonable, so deal made and paid. Went to DMV to register it and was asked for Title, FYI NY at that time wasn't a Title state, and I was clueless. When I called the seller back no one answered, thought I was scammed. The lady at the DMV saw my distress and told me to relax. Thank goodness she was able to resolve the issue and registered it. That was my scare.
Pit Crew

The easiest thing to do if the vehicle is not where you can see it is to ask for a specific new photo of the vehicle with the date stamp. If they are scammers overseas, this simple task is impossible but if it is a real seller where they have the car in another town, it is possible, just a pain.

If the seller is overseas, they could always get a neighbor or a familiy member to do this request.

If they won't do this, tell them you are done.
Advanced Driver

If there was ever an article that should be mailed to "all" HAGERTY customers this is the one. The descriptions offered as well as comments from those who experienced "SCAM'S" like this could be invaluable. Great article and many thanks to all who post stories. The one key that I would use is the "Approved Appraiser/Inspector" who goes out and does what he is paid to do. Small investment that makes sure you end up getting what you want and pay for.


Agreed ! On a more curious point it would be interesting to know the facts of a vehicles history, mainly new cars. Each lot now a days has literally millions in inventory. When natural disaster occurs ( you name it ), where do those cars end up??? Example; a dealers lot or maybe even manufactures inventory lot that had at one point salt water up to its door handles. WHERE do those cars end up AFTER they are dried out in the FL/TX Sun? On Michigan Lots?, With a sticker reduction that YOU just can’t believe? Do insurance company’s ( help out here HAGERTY ) absorb the cost? And kick out salvage titles? I have often wondered many of these scenarios when seeing new vehicles on third party transportation vehicles. Or are the auto makers just saving money here. I think an article on this alone would ADD to the CAUTION this great price might be a scam? Just wondering out loud? What happens to ALL those vehicles???

The key to any scam rests in getting the money. In today's technology, there are literally 35+ different ways to send and receive money, so you can bet that there are at least that many ways to get ripped off. The more person-to-person interaction that you can have, the better.

Years ago, I would have regarded anyone who purchased a car from an on-line auction as an idiot. But living in the north country where salt is liberally applied onto roads, finding decent classics can be impossible. One must find rust free older cars in the south. I have never looked for smoking deals, just rust free cars. I have purchased a number of cars and motorcycles from on-line auctions.

I must also admit that almost every car that I've purchased through the internet has arrived in worse condition than advertised. Sometimes the vehicles were dishonestly represented. Other times, the cars had only minor disappointments that were easily repaired. My last purchase was an '88 Mercedes 300CE and I fully expected to be screwed.

Along the way, I discovered that eBay's buyer protections are very thin. I was cheated fairly badly on an E30 BMW from a high volume dealer in Miami through eBay. The dealer had very few negative feedback comments. Now I know that eBay sometimes scrubs negative comments from the sites of high volume sellers. That site is designed to protect high volume sellers more than small buyers. So I never use eBay for anything but the purchase of small, inexpensive and hard to find parts. They have proven a reasonable source for that purpose.

The consolation is that all of the vehicles that I purchased were rust free and worthy of restoration. In the end, I restored some cars into excellent examples that I'm proud to own today.

At this point, I recognize the risks of on-line vehicle purchasing. It doesn't always turn out badly. Whenever I've been screwed, I recognize that I am the one who took the risk.

New Driver

Not exactly on point regarding the subject of car buying through dubious web sites but a cautionary warning on vacation rentals showing up on Craigslist in Florida. Fraudsters advertising rental properties complete with addresses and photos. Any contact will show the property is available and a rental agreement will arrive, confirming your rental with instructions to wire the funds through a US bank.
Fortunately in Florida property registers are public information so a check will show the advertised property is owned by a person whose name is totally different than the name of the person on the wire transfer instructions. I'm sure a visit to the property and a knock on the door will confirm the owner/occupant is not listing the property for vacation rental. Probably a similar stunt would apply to vehicle purchases
Intermediate Driver

As I do this for a living , # 1 is google the vin , its amazing what you find. I was buying a local Z/28 Matching # 2 owner car . When i inpected everything looked in order , super low miles as it was a drag car most of its life. After I googled the VIN , an old Camaro chat room discussion came up from the begining of the interweb! The original owner was selling the car & when asked if the pad was a DZ code his reply was that he milled the block so many times, all mumbers were long gone. True enough . When I approached the New seller and showed him the post & said it was acid etched and the numbers came back . Next!
Intermediate Driver

It's unfortunate that we need to be so suspicious now days because there are a lot of good people out there trying to buy and sell. Eight years ago, I bought a euro model Mercedes Benz on eBay from a seller a thousand miles away. Some of the things that were involved, the ad was posted by the actual seller's nephew, I didn't know anyone in the area to go and evaluate the car, etc., would have driven most of you away. However, I was able to contact the seller via phone and the conversation convinced me to buy. The car turned out to be exactly as advertised and I still have it today. At the time (pre-Bring-a-Trailer) it was a rare find and still surprises people when they see an R107 Mercedes with a clutch pedal.
On the other end of the transaction, I sold a boat on eBay and when the biding ended (for more than I expected by quite a bit) I noticed the abbreviation for the buyer's location was AU, Australia! How could this work and how the hell does one gat a 17' boat and trailer from Michigan to Melbourn and is this a scam?? Well PayPal paid me, the buyer contacted me and made all of the arrangements to pick up the boat and have it shipped, easy-peasy. I've had more trouble selling a lawn mower. Several months later, the buyer emailed me a picture of the boat on a lake in Australia, still wearing the Michigan registration numbers. The moral of the story is online sales can involve some strange conditions but that doesn't always mean a scam. Be careful but don't always expect the other guy to be a thief, you may miss a great deal.

Absolutely Agree ! Questions, questions, questions, answers, answers, answers. You just never know what the buyer/seller is looking for. The online question/answer sessions narrow it down to a legitimately good transaction for both the buyer and seller. That broken side view mirror you list (if you would) could very well go on someone’s art project. You just never know !
Pit Crew

My method on the last few buy/sells is to go to the bank with the other party and watch the cashiers check be issued, or have the seller watch the me get the check be issued.
At that point I let the car leave my possession, & or drive away with my new purchase…
Not ready yet to ever buy a car without seeing it firsthand, doubt I ever will at this point in life.
Pit Crew

I love the facebook adds that show the same vehicle for sale in 3 of 4 different cities.

If it`s too good to be true, then it`s likely it`s not true................ pertains to all things in life..
Pit Crew

I have bought cars on eBay with good results if you know wha to ask. When a dealer tells you it what it is, look a the pictures - Red Flag. When a dealer or seller discloses everything, a small scratch, chip and tells the negative and positives about the vehicle makes a difference. Reading between the lines is important. If the deal is too good to be true do not waste your time and move on. Even Barrett Jackson and Mecum auctions can be exciting but you need to be carful and not buy with your emotions. Set a price range you are willing to pay after inspecting the vehicle bid in that range. Fortunately I have been carful enough to come out OK on all the purchases but there Have been issues I have needed to take care of. I am mechanically inclined and do my own work which makes a huge difference. For me it is a hobby that I enjoy and buy the vehicles that I enjoy, drive and want to add to my collection.

Agreed ! Don’t Assume….Online it ( as the saying goes ) it makes ASS-U-ME ! Questions, questions, questions….answers, answers, answers
Intermediate Driver

Thanks for an excellent article. My interest is antique cars. A year or so ago there was a 1912 Buick for sale in the US. The way the add was written was a little strange. Did an image search and found that the photos had been lifted from another sale. Checking the email address showed the seller was in Dubai.
A friend had a similar thing happen with a motorcycle.
From Australia, buying in the US, I have found that shopping in the classifieds of the club I belong to, and then checking the car through friends who know the owner or their associates helps ensure an honest transaction.
It is also important to just take your time - if someone is in a hurry, walk away.

I have lost count of the number of cars that I have bought over my car driving career. In every case I saw, touched, and in most cases drove the car before any money changed hands
In the few cases I did not drive the car, I later regretted it (early 90s firebird with slipping transmission, 66 Caprice which wound up having a mid-80s drivetrain and where the rear axle had something done to it that resulted in a missing control arm and a hole in the crossmember)
If you are looking for 'that car', it is very hard to live by the rule of don't buy it if you can't drive it first, but that is the #1 best way to not get scammed. I also tend to be a bit of a venus flytrap where I usually wait for the deal to come to me rather than the other way around
New Driver

I have a car I will be selling.  How do I make sure I get the money before releasing the car?


Community Manager

Speak to your bank to ensure you know exactly when they will get the money. You can do a wire transfer with a seller, a cashier's check, or cold hard cash. Depends on how much the vehicle is worth and where the buyer is located. Again, just talk to your bank. 

New Driver

Recommend seeing the documentary “Tinder Swindler” on the Netflix.
Intermediate Driver

I'll tell you different story. I had a 1987 Honda Super Magna for sale on eBay local several years ago with a price of $2500. I was contacted by someone in Qatar wanting to buy the bike. I ignored it since they were half way around the world(easy decision). The next day I got another message from them say they wanted to buy it. I checked the eBay name and it was for someone in my state. In a round about way I sent a message suggesting that the person attached to the eBay name had his account stolen. The next day i got another message saying it was truly him and he was working in Qatar and would be home in 3 weeks. He wanted to buy the bike and ask what can he do to make it happen? I responded that if he deposited $500 in my PayPal account I would hold the bike for 3 weeks. The next day $500 had been deposited. I held the bike for 3 weeks and he and his wife came, paid the balance in cash and took the bike. He explained that he was working in Qatar as a contract employee on an airport construction and he was home on vacation. I was totally blown away. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!

There is an easy answer to evade the scammers. Shop locally. No long distance deals. There are plenty of deals in local markets.
Advanced Driver

Many yrs ago I got a great deal on a car--Local--Had the car for about 3 months when a Finance co. informed me there was a lien of about 3 times what I paid for it--I lost the car & my money-
Pit Crew

I have bought a number of cars on eBay and several from facebook marketplace. Many have been purchased sight-unseen. I think the biggest issue is to realize that you are buying the seller more than you are buying the car. I try to always talk to the seller beforehand and in my mind are two questions: can I trust this person? And does this person have enough knowledge about the car to adequately describe it? If I don’t get a good feeling about the person I don’t buy from them. I also always ask for another picture of the car, of some detail that they haven’t shown. If they can’t produce a picture in a timely manner, they probably don’t have the car. The question, “can I drive it home (a long distance) often tends to bring out some honesty in people as well. A marque specific club can be a good source for knowledgeable people to go look at a car, though that can be a challenge with an on-line auction. If the car is within reasonable driving distance I go look myself, and I have looked at cars for other people in MBCA.
Intermediate Driver

I definitely agree with your comment about evaluating the seller. When I buy a car or motorcycle I give 50% of the weight to my judgement of the seller. If I don't feel good about the seller I don't bother considering what they are selling. I have sold a number of motorcycles and cars on the internet. When I do I ask for a $500 nonrefundable deposit. However if they show come to get the bike/car and don't like it for any reason I will refund the deposit and cancel the sale. If they don't show up I will keep the deposit. I have never had to refund a deposit or keep one for failure to show up. If your are scammed on an internet deal you can file a claim with the FBI on this website: I have used it and it does work but it is best to have written details of the transaction(emails, text & etc.).

Intermediate Driver

This scam has been going on for quite some time.
The "seller" always has some **bleep**& bull story about not being available and the car is with a broker.
They offer a 5 day return offer with shipping in both directions.
Logic will tell you who would give an offer like that?
Pit Crew

Be advised buying isn't the only place scammers lurk. Selling can be even more dangerous. About two years ago I listed an Olds 442 conv for sale on cars on line. Eventually I accepted an offer from a guy in the UK for $87K. After a lot of phone calls I received a check for 87K pounds written on a large bank in the UK. Looked strange to me so I took it to my bank to see if it was valid and they cashed it and credited my account $104,000+. A few days later I got a call from this buyer and he asked that I send the over payment to a third party to cover shipping and import taxes.
Now I was sure I was being scammed. I called the bank in the UK and they agreed and canceled payment on the check. About ten months later I was notified that the money had been recalled and because of a change in exchange rate they took $116,000. Bottom line is I lost $12,000 but didn't lose the car!
Advanced Driver

I once answered a legitimate ad for a car a couple of hundred miles from my home. The daughter and I drove with cash, tools and towing equipment to fetch it. As we drove into t he driveway and could see the car from a distance--our daughter said--"No Daddy! You do not want this car!" I never was quite sure what she saw, but she was right. First--the photos OnLine had been taken in the distant past--elsewhere! The photos had not shown some fender damage--prob. because it had happened since the photos had been taken. Also--no back seat --the owner very seriously told us that this model came with no back seat--just plywood. And, there were other signs--looking at the interior we could see that it was extremely needy. Even had the seller granted a sharp discount, I would have wasted my money. The guy actually begged me to tell him why I wasn't buying the car. I didn't bother to tell him why. I advise all potential buyers to study the car they want--BEFORE looking at one. This is so that the buyer will be thoroughly educated about the car he sees for sale. Ignorance is the main reason that buyers get scammed. Advertising Agencies cannot do the homework for wanna-be buyers. They don't have "scam filters" or "intuitive training centers". I had a great drive there and back with the daughter and would recommend such father-daughter outings.

UGH! Except for the elderly who often place too much trust in the internet, I have little sympathy for people who fall for this nonsense. Think back a few decades before the internet made sending money and images to distant locations easy and cheap: would anyone mail a bag of cash to an unknown recipient far away and expect a valuable asset to appear? It's the exact same idea. People so gullible don't deserve to be in charge of money. Even today if it's a vehicle you really want at an attractive price, take a few days and GO SEE IT. I have no experience with Carvana but if a seller can't produce a title in exchange for money it's effectively a stolen car.

Intermediate Driver

Look no further than shiny pictures on BAT. I was bitten pretty hard with a sale with loads of incredible photos, some decent documentation, and many, many (perhaps too many) very supportive comments from watchers. Yes, the car was a matching numbers car with a new paint job but the paint was embarrassingly amateurish and not in agreement with the implications that the paint shop was owned by a Corvette judge and expert. After that, the car was a mechanical disaster. Some of the repairs were done by someone without basic auto skills. Some issues were very apparent (locked brakes, bad clutch, bad u-joints, etc.) but not reported in the ad. I feel scammed but to this day I can't decide if the seller was a scammer or just someone who really didn't understand the true state of car's condition. They clearly were in love with the car with lots of family pictures with the car-but they treated it more like art than a driver. In the end, my fault for not going to look at the car-but that's the danger of web transactions.
Pit Crew

This past fall I found an older 60's-build black 1932 Ford Model A 5-window coupe hot rod for sale on a specialty car site for 16k. It looked just like a car that I've owned 50 years ago and I was hooked on getting my old car back. The first red flag was "Why was a '32 Ford being advertised as a Model A?" Apparently the owner had passed away and his wife was selling it, and I thought she probably just doesn't know the difference. The car was supposedly located in California (I live in AZ so that's no big deal). My friend has a place in California and he said that the trees in the pictures didn't look like those in the area (they looked like back east trees)...another red flag. For some reason the lady that I was communicating with on-line said that she hired a logistics company to handle the sale and that they had the car and it's title and registration in their warehouse, and they would also handle the shipping after I wired them the money. I called the warehouse and asked if they could have somebody take a current photo of the car in their warehouse and they said that they didn't have the manpower to do that (another red flag). We did a Google search of the California seller's location and found out that it was a vacant lot (which was confirmed by a relative who drove by there). The Logistics company had a beautiful website but when we Google Earthed their location, we found out that it was a St. Joseph Food Bank. I e-mailed the seller and told her that my friend was a police officer in the town where the Logistics company was located, and that he and his partner would swing by and verify that the car was there before I sent the payment. Never heard anything back from her, but you wonder how many people get scammed by these people as the car had had 450 some hits before I ever inquired about the car (another Red Flag)? Buyer Beware! If you can't see it or touch it, or have somebody look at it for you, then it probably doesn't exist. My son did a photo search on the photos in the on-line ad and they were supposedly taken from some auction site back east.
New Driver

First I need to thank Hagerty for such a timely article. I found what looked to be a great deal on a 1934 Chevrolet coupe 3 window. I sent an email about the car asking if a trade was available? The reply was sorry for the slow response as I am a Marine serving in Kuwait. Yes the car is available but since I am deployed, I have turned this over to a broker. DING! DING! DING! Alarm bells. This article confirmed my suspicions. So a much wiser search goes on thanks to Hagerty.

Any Car I can't physically touch and see will not get me to buy. Unless I had a trusted person wherever this car might be I would stay far away. But I know a Nigerian prince who has emailed me about some funds he would like to leave with me. I'm sure that's totally legit. :^)

Good tips for those willing to brave the online world of buying a car sight unseen.

Always go to the car. No matter where it is. If you can't do that, narrow the search to the three State area surrounding yours. Be careful with the Internet BS. Call/write to the Owner's Club of the Marque you are after and see if any members have anything for sale.
You will pay slightly more and get a Prince of a car. And honesty. Another way:
Drive around the town/city/neighborhood whatever you live in. You'd be amazed what's parked in carports that no one wants. First clues: Flat tires, much dust. Park, walk up to the front door, introduce yourself, BEHAVE YOURSELF, ask if there is any interest in selling the car in the carport (field, garden, etc) for cash. Always have cash up to the limit you are willing to spend. Never mind Banks, Wire Transfers, and other foolishness.
Come equipped to do your own appraisal or hire it. Rely on your Intuition, which will never fail you. If anything feels weird, walk away. There's more but I'm too tired now.
Sajeev, another winner.
Intermediate Driver

I recently “won” a bid on BAT for an E39 2001 BMW 530i with just 63K miles, a car I wanted to add to my collection of BMW's. My wife, grandson and I flew from Kentucky to LA to pick the car up and have a great road trip home. I failed to ask for a pre-bid inspection, relying on the sellers pictures and comments. I screwed up big time. The car is a piece of **bleep**, sold by a typical So. Cal. dealer. This guy has sold over $250,000 of cars in a year on BAT. After making a complaint to BAT, they refunded their fee (about $1,200) quickly.
Bottom line is; I took the pictures and comments at face value. I got “sucked” in on the hype. The seller scammed the bidders with great 10’ pictures and good hype from the commenters.
Lesson learned; If you’re planning to bid, get someone you know, who understands what your expectations are, to put eyes on the car. BAT does not “curate” the cars they offer on bid. Nor do they allow any kind of negative feedback on any seller (like my shister dealer in Woodland Hills, CA.). You’re on your own if you bid on BAT (or any other site). Let the buyer beware! Get a pre-bid inspection; and don’t trust anyone selling cars on BAT from Woodland Hills, CA., no matter how good the pictures are!!
Pit Crew

Great article. It's important to remember in these scams that sometimes sellers are angling for easy deposit money too, if they can get it. Case in point, (among many, sadly) I was hired a couple years ago by a European client to inspect a Porsche 356, supposedly located outside of Flint, MI. They had an address for the location of the car, photos, and the VIN. The seller had provided excellent communication, lots of photos, and had gotten the buyer, my client, to wire them $4k as a "refundable" deposit to hold the car for inspection before I got involved. The problem was, when my client sent me the photos, they were of a 356 sold by a dealer here in Michigan. I'd inspected this car for someone else about six months prior. I knew exactly where the car was, and it was most certainly not for sale. I street viewed the address where the car was supposedly located and the building was a nasty boarded up gas station in a really rough area- not the place anyone would keep a 356. Of course, the seller ghosted both me and my client after I'd played along to try and make arrangements to inspect this imaginary car. Someone made an easy $4k, and that fellow of course never saw his money again. If he'd reached out to me before sending money, he wouldn't have lost a dime.
Intermediate Driver

We bought a 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible through e-XXX on the Internet. Price was OK: $4200.
After buying it, went to check out and take possession of the car.
The owner's father was a service manager at a Toyota dealership and supposedly checked out the car, and Toyota did all the maintenance.
Problems I found after I got the car:
- All 4 radial tires were different, obviously junk-yard tires.
- Windshield wipers did not work... They parked at 45 degrees. Apparently they could not figure out how to fix this. It wasn't difficult for me to figure out, but one more thing I had to deal with.
- Lots of missing interior trim pieces missing... Not a big deal to buy from e-xxx, but annoying still.
- Air conditioning did not work. They had pulled the engine to fix the Turbo. When they re-installed the engine, one of the AC hoses rubbed until it failed.
- There is a heater hose that was improperly routed when they did the Turbo job. It has not failed yet, but will very soon.
So bottom line, we love this car, and wish it had not been serviced and owned by these people.
It now is a fun car to drive with the top down.
Intermediate Driver

From the other side of the transaction, I had put a car up for sale on Kijiji. Got the reply that the buyer would send me a larger check that I was to deposit and send back the difference via Western Union.
Told the buyer "Cool, lets do it, but I'm going moose hunting this week so send the check to my buddy, Sargent so & so at the local police detachment and he will take care of it for me"
Disappointingly the check never arrived....
Pit Crew

About 20 years ago on a Yahoo car site I saw 3 ads with the same picture of a '67 corvettes with stinger hood in 3 different locations.
A few years later I also saw an ad for Clark Gable's 190SL om EBay. The car was in Belarus) or somewhere near it).
You see the military story all the time. There was another one a while ago on Craigslist with A complete package of Kubota tractor and accessories where it was priced well nelow half common sense value.
The common thread in these was the request to wire money. Don't do it!
Intermediate Driver

All of these comments are great, learned a lot, thanks!
My own story is a positive, had been looking for a pickup truck that could go to car shows and do the occasional work of a truck.
Found on Craigslist an unusual light yellow 87 Dodge & frankly the pics looked too good to be true for under $10k. Seller was local, called & he said it was sold. I gave my number in case something happened.
Sure enough he called & said buyer had backed out, I went to see it. Yes it had a few issues, but seemed just right. In hindsight after these comments I really didn’t take any precautions commenters suggested, bought it—and happy to say it’s been a great buy.
A couple years later, now I want to sell it. Reading these comments I wonder how I can sell with no drama? I’ve thought about taking it to Carlisle this summer, a few hours drive, wonder if anyone’s had success there?
Here’s to honest buying & selling!

I'm surprised no one else has brought this one up. Whenever I am seriously looking to buy car that is located far away, I find a car club local to the car with expertise in that marque. I contact them and ask for a judge or expert in that marque that I can pay to look at the car for me. They typically charge between $100-$200, and many are flattered to be asked. Much better than using a generalist appraiser and most often cheaper It has also resulted in good contacts for me as well.

On another note, many people believe that BaT vets a car out. They don't. They depend on the representations of the seller who was a broker for the local owner (legit). I once viewed a very high end vintage Mustang on the site represented as a complete and accurate numbers matching restoration. Had the Marti Report. It ended up not sellling for the reserve and I negotiated with the seller after the auction ended. We mutually reached a price. Then I called up the local Mustang Club. Found a Mustang expert of that vintage who I paid to look at the car, including up on a lift. He discovered that it had a replacement engine (date codes off by over 9 months), wrong carb and more. Turns out that the owner "thought" it was numbers matching. Worse, the underside of the car was rusted so badly the torque boxes were compromised. In the resto, they simply painted everything over to make it look right. Bottom line, for $200 I saved myself from being about $30K underwater. I passed on the car but made a friend in the process.

Note that if I had won the auction on BaT I would have been on the hook to buy the car and BaT wouldn't have intervened even though the representations of its condition were wildly incorrect. If a car is remote to you always have it inspected by a highly knowledgeable person, noa a generalist, before you pay money. Cheapest insurance you will ever buy.