If you shop for a vehicle online, you should use caution when a seller promises to ship your vehicle.
According to FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, automobile-shipping fraud cases jumped to 17,159 in 2012 from 4,066 in 2011 (the latest data available). The scam works largely on Craigslist and eBay, says John Roehll of vehicle-shipping company Dependable Auto Shippers. The seller, claiming financial distress or that he/she is moving, demands immediate payment by wire transfer and says a third party will ship the vehicle upon payment. The buyer then finds out that the shipping company doesn’t have the vehicle. Money can’t be traced back after it’s been wired, Roehll says, adding that legitimate sellers never demand payment by wire transfer.
eBay recommends that consumers use partnering companies Escrow.com or uShip when buying vehicles through eBay. Both will hold the buyer’s payment until either the vehicle is delivered to the buyer or the shipping company. Dean Xeros of uShip says that if a seller objects to using Escrow.com or uShip, you should walk away. Consumers can use Escrow.com and uShip on Craigslist.