Old car blues and paypal scams

Beware of potential scams when you’re selling your car

My sons Mike and Max were out driving around town last week when their car made some funny sounds and ground to a complete stop in the middle of a busy intersection. No signs of life, just an ominous sound when the key was turned. Sounded like a busted alternator. Towed it to our friendly and completely trustworthy mechanics (Puccini’s in Aurora) and waited for the bad news the next morning.

It’s a 2001 Hyundai Accent. Rob said the timing chain had snapped and that’s why the car had stopped. To replace the timing chain is labour intensive, so we’re looking at $500 plus taxes. But, and this is a big but, they may find there is further damage – involving valves, pistons, heads, and other expensive sounding stuff. So if the boys want to fix the car, they first have to gamble around $600 just to see if it is fixable.

We were in denial for a few days as we contemplated the situation. If we could be sure the timing chain replacement would get the car back on the road we would do it – but there could be another $1,000 or much more work after that – we just don’t know. We decided better to sell the car as is.

We’ll try trusty Craigslist – maybe there is a do it yourselfer out there would pay a reasonable dollar for the beast and fix it up.

I listed it this morning and already had two emails from an interested buyer. He’s not from Nigeria, but his email sure sounds dodgy – it feels like a scam – but I am not familiar enough with PAYPAL to know how the scam works and how badly I could get hurt.  Here’s his most recent email.

I will be buying this for the price you have listed it for. Payment will be sent using PayPal and i will handle the PayPal surcharge as well. I will arrange with someone to have this picked up from your location once i have paid as i am out of town at the moment. In the meantime, can you send me more pictures (if available)?

So why would someone buy this car advertised “as is” –  needing a new timing chain; agree to the asking price of $1,499; and not bother to do any due diligence.  More importantly, what is with the PAYPAL thing and why is he not around? Mama always said if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true. I agree.

I did a little research, and there lots of good information out there about online scams – particularly using PAYPAL. Most likely, the Paypal account in question has been hacked, or the buyer is using a stolen credit card.

Some of the links I found give lists of warning signals of what to look for in a scam transaction.

Warning Signals #1

Warning Signals #2

Be careful out there, folks!

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