Recall that the Bargain Hunter scam is a four pronged attack:
1. Scammer Sets the Trap
This cars.com ad has a 2002 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner up for grabs at $5,582.
It’s a pretty good deal, designed to whet my appetite and have me get in touch with the seller thinking that there’s a great deal here, i.e., it’s an entry point to a Bargain Hunter scam.
2. Victim Takes the Bait
First response from the seller:
From: Jessica Hale (email@example.com) Subject: Cars.com used car lead for Juanna - 2002 Toyota Tacoma I still have my 2002 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab SR-5 TRD Pre-runner with 3.4 V-6, automatic transmission.Used 128k miles ,VIN# 5tegn92n72z012744 . I will take only $5500 total price shipping included from Medford OR, i have my own trailer to have the truck delivered to you.It has a clear title ready to be signed and notarized on your name. Runs great,no problems at all,garage kept only. I can offer a 7 days inspection. More pics attached here: http://s1151.photobucket.com/albums/o629/sammy23r23/
The Photobucket link shows pictures of the car that are not available in the original cars.com ad (so this must be legit, right?)
3. Scammer Gains Victim’s Trust
It stands to reason that nobody in their right mind would engage in a financial transaction involving a large sum of money, someone they have never met and a car they have never seen. More so when the first act of good faith must come from the buyer, i.e., send the money first and then you will receive the goods.
Ah, but what about an entity that I trust? I do transactions of this nature every day with Amazon right? So of course I will send money to them and then wait for delivery, if not for any other reason than they always deliver no matter what. Doesn’t take much to see how scammers will exploit this.
Email correspondence eventually received from the scammer when asking about how the transaction will take place:
From: Jessica Hale (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Cars.com used car lead for Juanna - 2002 Toyota Tacoma I have a contract with Amazon Payments so we can go through their Protection Program. According with the Amazon you have 7 days after you receive the car to inspect it and decide if you want to BUY IT or NOT. Here is how it will work: 1.First of all I will need the following details from you: - Full Name - Full Address 2. After I will receive the details from you, I will forward them to Amazon. 3. After they will process your info, they will send us both invoices. You will receive the invoice with the details on how to make a refundable payment to Amazon.They will hold your payment while you test and inspect the vehicle at your home for a week. 4. Amazon will contact me to ship the car to you. After you receive the car you will have 7 days to test, verify and do whatever you need to the car. If you will decide to buy the car, then I will get the money from Amazon. 5. If you will decide that you do not buy the car, Amazon will refund your payment same day. I look forward to hearing from you . Thank you
Upon accepting these terms, I quickly got an email from someone claiming to be Amazon
4. Victim Sends Money
Once I send the money through Money Gram then it’s gone. I won’t hear from the seller again and the car will never arrive. I could get in touch with Amazon but they won’t know what I’m talking about (obviously because they were never involved)
I give this scammer 1/10:
- 1 point for a very basic Bargain Hunter scam
As is usually the case, the scammer could have done a lot more here to improve the scam. He didn’t screen calls, he didn’t sample responses and he did not go the extra mile when I asked for additional photos of the rear view mirror (saying that his kids broke his camera). Like most of the drivel out there, he is a bottom of the barrel scammer.
So sad to think that sooner or later the scammer behind this ad is going to catch another victim, he wouldn’t be doing this otherwise.