Sections on this page
- What is the eBay Motors Scam?
- How to Beat and Avoid eBay Motors Scams
- Examples of eBay Motors Scams
- What to Do After Falling for eBay Motors Scams
- Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to protect yourself from eBay Motors scams is to always see the car in person before you hand over any money. Although there are cases where this may be impossible (e.g., if you're out of town), it's still recommended as there are plenty of scammers just waiting to take your money.
What is the eBay Motors Scam?
You see a car on eBay that you may want to purchase. The seller convinces you to make an impulsive buy and send them money for the car before getting the chance to ask questions or inspect the vehicle. Once the seller receives the money, they stop communicating with you and never send you the car. Not only do you not have a car, but you are now short of what you paid for the vehicle—you've fallen victim to an eBay Motors scam.
1. An eBay Motors Seller Gets Pushy About a Sale
After reaching out to a seller on eBay Motors to purchase their vehicle, they seem enthusiastic and responsive. They answer your questions but try to pressure you into making an impulse purchase before even seeing the car in person. They may tell you they have other interested buyers or have to get it sold right away because they're moving or having some sort of timeline to sell the car.
2. The Seller Asks for Payment via Non-Conventional Methods
Once you agree to purchase the car, the seller will immediately ask for payment. They may allow you to complete a transaction through eBay, but they'll more likely convince you to pay them with gift cards, cash, internet currency like Bitcoin, or a wire transfer.
Sometimes they'll claim you can only purchase the car using eBay gift cards or that you need to make an initial deposit in eBay gift cards before sending the rest of the funds.
Example of What a Scammer May Say
Thank you for buying my car. I want to sell as quickly as possible because my mother is very sick and I need the money. You can pay with Walmart Gift Cards as it is easiest for us. Please send immediately and I will have the car shipped to you.
Thank you for your understanding to not see the vehicle first as my mother is sick and I cannot show it to you.
3. You Send the Money, But the Car Never Arrives
You send the payment, and then the seller stops responding and never delivers the car. The seller may also take down their post and delete their eBay account, so you're unable to track them down. Not only do you not the car you purchased, but you’ve now lost the money you sent them.
How to Beat and Avoid eBay Motors Scams
There are many scammers out there looking to make quick money by selling cars they don't have. To beat this eBay Motors scam:
- Only complete the transaction and pay the seller using eBay Motors (don’t complete transactions outside of the system, or eBay’s fraud protection won’t cover you).
- Don’t agree to buy a vehicle that you haven’t seen in person.
- Don’t pay for any items on eBay Motors with cash, wire transfer, gift cards, Bitcoin, or other methods outside what is accepted within the eBay Motors system.
eBay Motors Scams: Red Flags
Before you agree to buy a car on eBay Motors and hand over any sum of money, look out for these red flags that may signal you're dealing with an eBay Motors scammer:
- Vague post that has a lot of errors.
- Pushy seller.
- Request for payment outside of eBay's system.
- Inability to see the car in person.
- Request for additional fees.
Vague Post with Grammatical and Spelling Errors
If the post on eBay is incomplete or uses poor grammar, such as lots of exclamation points, it may not be a trustworthy seller. Also, be wary of posts with little or no pictures of the car or ask for gift cards as payment.
It's natural to want to take time when making a large purchase like a car. A legitimate seller will understand that you may want to take some time before making a decision, but a scammer will try to rush you into a sale. They may claim they have other offers, so you need to act fast. Or they may come off as threatening and convince you not to ask questions and send them money.
If someone is pressuring to make a purchase, especially before letting you see the car in person, stop communicating with them and look for another car.
Request for Payment Outside of eBay's Protected System
If you're purchasing a car through eBay, you should complete the transaction through eBay. The main reason is that eBay offers Vehicle Purchase Protection on many of the vehicles sold through eBay. This means you may get a reimbursement if the seller commits fraud.
If the seller asks you to pay them with gift cards, Bitcoin, or a wire transfer, don't make the purchase. They're trying to work around eBay's fraud prevention to scam you.
Refusal to Show You the Car in Person
It's common to want to inspect a car before purchasing it. If the seller refuses to meet in person or doesn't allow you to see the vehicle, don't go through with the purchase. Chances are the seller doesn't have a car to sell you and is trying to steal your money.
Request for Additional Fees
If you purchase a car and the seller starts asking for additional fees outside of the list price on eBay, don't pay them, especially if you haven't seen the car. If you complete the transaction all within eBay's system, you can report the seller and ask for reimbursement from the Vehicle Purchase Protection plan.
If you don't pay through eBay Motors and don't have the car, you'll want to report the fraud to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Protect Yourself from eBay Motors Scams
Purchasing a used car is a big decision. Before you send someone money, consider doing the following:
- Research the seller before making a purchase: Try Googling the seller's name and see what comes up. If the seller has been scamming people with the same or similar name, you may find bad reviews about them online. You can also try searching their name with words like "review" or "scam."
- Research the car before making a purchase: All vehicles have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can use this number to look up the vehicle's history report, which tells you who owns the car's title and whether there have been insurance claims on the car. You can file for a vehicle history report on the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System's website. If you look up the VIN and the title isn't the same as the person selling the car, or accidents have been reported that the seller didn't disclose to you, it's probably a scam. Also, be wary of sellers who refuse to give you the VIN or who have excuses for why they can't share it. You should also lookout for people who won't give you a VIN but say they'll send you the history report—chances are the vehicle history report will be fake.
Examples of eBay Motors Scams
eBay Motors scams can happen to anyone looking to purchase a car from eBay. They usually work because they make you think you're getting a great deal on a vehicle. Look out for ads on eBay with prices that are too good to be true.
Also, be wary of people who have a timeline for when they need to sell the car. Scammers will often use this tactic to pressure you into making a quick purchase, not allowing you time to consider other options or doing your research first. Also, look out for ads where people ask you to pay them in gift cards, which is quite common.
Another layer of this scam is when a seller wants to complete eBay's sale but promises you'll still receive the Vehicle Purchase Protection. The eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection plan offers buyers protection from losing money due to fraud.
However, the program is only available to eligible vehicles that have purchases completed through eBay. That means if you see a car on eBay and the seller convinces you to complete a transaction for the car outside of eBay, you can not receive protection. Scammers try to sell you the protection plan to make you more comfortable with sending them money.
Scammers will also give you reasons why they can't show you the car in person and will limit their communication methods with you.
Another related scam to look out for is people selling stolen cars. Everything about this sale may feel legitimate. They'll send you pictures, answer questions and even let you see the vehicle in person. However, once you purchase the car and take it home, you find out the vehicle is stolen, and police will need to confiscate the car.
In this scenario, the seller may still be wary about providing a VIN and may ask you to complete the purchase outside of eBay.
What to Do After Falling for eBay Motors Scams
If you've purchased a car on eBay Motors and completed the entire transaction within eBay but you didn't receive the car, file for reimbursement from the Vehicle Purchase Protection plan. This plan is put in place to protect buyers from fraud. Not only can you get your money back if you don't receive the car, but you can also receive reimbursement if you were sold a stolen or damaged car.
Even if you didn't complete payment through eBay, you could still report eBay Motors scams to eBay. They'll be able to remove the post and ban the seller, preventing future frauds, but you probably won’t get your money back.
Report the Scam to the Authorities
Whether you've completed the purchase on eBay or you paid another way, you should report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You'll need to provide as much detail as possible, so be sure to save all communications you’ve had with the scammer.
Once you report the scam, the FTC will provide additional follow-up actions, if there are any. They likely will not be able to get your money back, but reporting the fraud helps them protect others from falling victim to the same scam.