The best way to protect yourself from fraud is to be aware of the methods scammers use to steal your money. We do our best to lock out fraudulent buyers and sellers, but your best protection is to know how they work. It will save you time, money, and frustration.  
Common-Sense Tips for Sellers  
NEVER PAY CASH FOR A CAR YOU HAVEN'T PERSONALLY INSPECTED. Some fraudulent sellers will ask you to wire them money with the promise they will send the automobile to you. Don't do this. Sending money by a wire service such as Western Union is the same as sending money to a stranger. Money Grams, Western Union money transfers are all untraceable. If you can't personally inspect a vehicle or part before exchanging money then use a reputable Escrow Service such as the one found on our site: Your money is safe until the seller has delivered his product. Always be careful!
This is one of the oldest scams. Fake buyers will pretend they want your car shipped to them. They offer to buy your car for full price sight unseen, plus they offer to send you additional money for shipping but send you thousands of dollars over what you are asking. They give you some excuse about a deal gone bad or this is the money they need to ship out of the country or another story. They send you a CASHIERS check that looks so real it even fools your bank. They ask you to wire the balance back to them in Africa, or sometimes they even give a NY or other address.  The cashiers check they send you looks so real your bank may credit your account right away. In time the check will bounce and if you refund the scammers any money, you will be left holding a fake check your bank will expect you to honor. IF YOU REFUND CASH BY WIRE TRANSFER, YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED. DON'T DO IT. REPORT SCAMS TO WEB SITES LISTED BELOW. 
 Be aware that these scams are well-known. They used to be called "Nigerian letters" because they came by mail, but now these messages also come by phone, fax, or email.
  • These promises are never true. The purpose of the scam is to get money out of your bank account, not to put money into it.
  • Once you are on the hook, they'll never let you go. You will be asked for a never-ending series of payments for "transfer fees," "legal expenses," and other bogus costs.
  • Be wary of offers to send you an "advance" on your "commission." Some con artists use this ploy to build trust and to get money from your bank. They send you a check for part of your "commission," instructing you to deposit it and then wire payment to them for taxes, bonding, or some other phony purpose. The bank tells you the check has cleared because the normal time has passed to be notified that checks have bounced. After you wire the money, the check that you deposited finally bounces because it turned out to be an elaborate fake. Now the crooks have your payment, and you're left owing your bank the amount that you withdrew.
  • Don't believe photographs of the "treasure." One common ploy is to tape money around a block of wood or bundles of paper to make it look like a large amount of currency. Sometimes the crooks even sprinkle harmless powder on the money and tell victims that it's a toxic chemical used to protect it. Then they offer to sell a special substance to remove the powder!
  • Never provide your bank account or other financial information. This information can be used to withdraw money from your account.
  • Don't agree to travel anywhere to meet these people. They avoid coming to the United States because they fear arrest. Instead, they sometimes try to lure victims to meet them in Africa or other countries. Victims have been robbed and even murdered.
  • Remember that these are hardened criminals. According to the Secret Service, these crooks use the money they make on this scam to finance other illegal activities such as drug dealing and credit card fraud.
  • If they get your money, you'll never get it back. It's very difficult to bring these crooks to the United States for trial, and action is rarely taken against them in their own countries. However, it's still helpful to report actual or attempted Nigerian money offer scams to law enforcement agencies.
  • Report all scammers to or

Common-Sense Tips for Buyers

  • Buying a car you find online is a lot like buying a car through a classified ad in the newspaper. In either case, use your best judgment.
  • Know the car's market value. Be suspicious of a vehicle priced significantly below market value. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Obtain a vehicle history report. A vehicle history report can provide useful information, such as who holds the title to the car and whether the car has been in an accident reported to authorities. You'll also find out whether the car was ever reported stolen, salvaged or damaged.
  • Inspect the car. Schedule an inspection with a professional mechanic or an inspection service if the car is not in your area. An early inspection can help you identify problems. However, keep in mind that an inspection isn't a warranty and won't guarantee a car is free from defects or that inspectors have identified all existing problems.
  • Confirm contact information. Before you send payment, verify the seller's street address and phone number- an email address is not enough. ZIP codes, area codes and addresses should match up. Be wary if the seller is located overseas.
  • Get a detailed receipt. Ask the seller for a receipt that states whether the vehicle is being sold with a warranty or "as is."
  • Get title to the vehicle. Make sure you know what's required in your state to transfer title to the vehicle you're buying.