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Avoid Craigslist Cars and Trucks Scams: Tips and Tricks

Looking for a reliable used car but not sure where to start? Craigslist Cars and Trucks is a great place to begin your search. It offers a wide variety of options and it’s completely free. However, be aware of scammers who try to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. To avoid getting scammed, follow this guide on how to recognize a Craigslist Cars and Trucks scam.

This guide will cover common scams and provide tell-tale signs that something is not right with an offer. Additionally, it will offer tips on purchasing from online sources and how to buy with confidence. With these insights, you can confidently find the perfect vehicle without falling prey to scams.

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Spoof pages

Spoof pages are a growing concern when browsing online marketplaces like Craigslist, especially when it comes to car listings. Unscrupulous scammers copy and paste images from legitimate posts and create deceptive ads in numerous cities, making it difficult for potential buyers to ascertain the authenticity of the listing.

The folks at Brads Cartunes suggest a clever technique to determine the authenticity of the car listed. Simply copy an image from the advertisement and do a reverse-image search on Google. If you come across the same car featured on multiple websites in various cities, it’s highly likely that it’s a hoax.

Spoof pages
Spoof pages


Don’t forget to apply this trick to the text as well, as scammers often reuse descriptions to save time. Simply type a distinctive phrase from the Craigslist listing in quotes into Google’s search bar, and check if any other ads share the same wording.

Hidden damage

While taking a glance at a car might seem enough to evaluate its performance and safety, it is crucial to realize that without a mechanic’s expertise, one might overlook the swapping of high-end parts with subpar components or even the absence of airbags.

It is vital that before committing to a purchase, you ensure that a trusted, unbiased auto expert examines the vehicle meticulously.

To safeguard your interests, insist on having your chosen mechanic perform a thorough inspection instead of relying on the seller’s recommended expert. If the seller denies this request, Brads Cartunes advises to immediately walk away and continue the search elsewhere.

The sob story

In platforms like Craigslist, scammers often take an even more personal approach to manipulate potential buyers by taking advantage of their empathy.

These con artists fabricate heart-wrenching stories, claiming they are on the verge of military deployment, facing job loss, or struggling to pay rent.

As Tim warns, these scammers leverage their contrived misfortunes to elicit an emotional response, compelling unsuspecting buyers to rush into making purchases out of sympathy.

False security

Escrow sites often serve as a comforting safeguard for consumers. By depositing funds into a secure third-party platform, a buyer can enjoy the reassurance that should any issues arise, their money will be returned.

However, cunning fraudsters are well-aware of this desire for protection and prey upon hapless online shoppers by creating counterfeit escrow sites or hijacking the appearance of legitimate ones. To ensure a safe transaction and avoid falling victim to such schemes, never blindly trust an escrow site simply because a seller endorses it.

Heed the wise advice from Brads Cartunes and conduct comprehensive research on the escrow service in question, ensuring it’s adequately licensed by the state.

The little-by-little payment

Avoid Craigslist Cars and Trucks Scams Tips and Tricks
Avoid Craigslist Cars and Trucks Scams Tips and Tricks


When it comes to fake listings, scammers are well aware that they need to be strategic in order to avoid raising any red flags among potential buyers. One tactic they employ is asking for payments in smaller, incremental amounts rather than larger, lump sums. For example, if a scammer were to ask for a $20,000 payment upfront, potential buyers would likely be immediately suspicious.

However, by breaking down the payments into smaller amounts, scammers can effectively lower buyers’ guards. They’ll often create a sense of urgency by claiming that the vehicle is in high demand and that the below-average price can only be guaranteed by quickly putting down a deposit. Once this has been done, they’ll continue to ask for additional payments for various reasons, such as shipping costs or other fees.

Turning back the clock

Rolling back the odometer is a crafty scheme that has been duping unsuspecting car buyers for years. Since the mileage on a vehicle is a crucial factor in determining its wear and tear, shaving-off a chunk of it can deceive buyers into believing they have stumbled upon a barely-driven gem.

To avoid falling for this ploy, it’s essential to pay attention to telltale signs such as the car’s age and general condition. For example, most cars in the United States are driven around 13,000 miles annually. So, if a five-year-old car claims to have only traveled 15,000 miles, it’s worth being skeptical.

A rewritten history

When purchasing a used car, it’s important to realize that even if the car looks good on the outside, there could be hidden damage from an old accident or flooding. Be wary of the seller’s assurances, no matter the documentation they show you.

Ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN), and then do some further research on your own through reliable third-party sources such as Carfax. To make sure you’re getting a durable purchase and not being scammed by creative sellers, I suggest comparing VINs found in several different locations on the vehicle itself for consistency.

A too-short test ride

Avoid Craigslist Cars and Trucks Scams Tips and Tricks 2
Avoid Craigslist Cars and Trucks Scams Tips and Tricks 2

It’s not uncommon for consumers to share their predicaments after purchasing a used car from an ad on Craigslist, with the most recurring issue being the inadequate test drive allowed by the seller.

Often, these test drives are limited to a quick spin around the block in a low-speed area, which hardly provides enough insight into the car’s true performance and maintenance history. To avoid falling into this trap, it’s crucial to insist upon a more extensive test drive that simulates real-world driving conditions.

Any seller who’s reluctant to grant this request could be concealing potential problems with the vehicle, serving as a red flag for buyers to proceed with caution.

Final Words

Thank you for reading! We hope that this article was helpful in teaching you Avoid Craigslist Cars and Trucks Scams: Tips and Tricks

All of the tips provided above should help keep you safe when shopping for cars and trucks on Craigslist. Remember to be wary of attempts to distract you from suspicious offers, ask questions before committing to a deal, and remind yourself to take precautions even if the offer seems too good to be true.

Never forget that online scammers are smart, so staying alert is your best protection against being taken advantage of–researching potential sellers ahead of time and double-checking the information they provide is paramount in avoiding Craigslist scams. Arm yourself with knowledge and protect yourself by following these simple steps!

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

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