Internet scammers prey on anyone not alert to their tricks.  Don't let the stories of scams and frauds scare you away from dealing on the internet.  Be careful and be knowledgeable and 99.9% of scams will be so obvious you won't be fooled. 
Internet commerce can be a wonderful thing, but as with any commerce there is the possibility of frauds and scams. Nobody falls for the medicine man's magic elixirs any more, but many innocent internet traders do succumb to the unsavory scammers who prey on the unprepared.
Any legitimate internet dealer will display information on how to avoid scams. Take the time to read over this information.  It could save you a lot of time and grief.  Most scams are pretty obvious to identify with some practice.
It is pretty simple if you follow some basic rules:
  • When looking at a new website always check the "Contact Us" or "About Us" page
  • Contact the seller with specific information about your request and ask for a contact telephone. Scammers seldom will give you a valid telephone number.
  • Anyone who says, "I am ready to buy your item immediately. Give me your last price, full name and address and I will send cashier's check or money order right away," is a fraud.  Essentially, be suspicious of anyone too eager to buy "your item."  The least they can do is mention your car by name.
  • Never accept payment in excess of your selling price.  Scammers will make up some story about why they have to send you a cashier's cheque that is more than your selling price and request that you refund the balance by wire transfer to their "shipping agent." This is always bogus.  No legitimate buyer will do this.
  • Always require that any non-cash payment be cleared before releasing the car and title.
  • I do not subscribe to the idea that all business must be local as some websites declare.  Just get to know your buyer or seller and follow my "sales practices" listed below. 
  • Bad grammar is not always an indication of a scam.  I'm afraid we're all guilty of that sometimes and not all legitimate buyers are native English speakers.  I would be hard-pressed to speak with my Arabic or Japanese or German buyers in their native tongue.  Broken English can be a red flag if the email barely makes sense at all, so sometimes you need to just delete it or hit your email "SPAM" button.
BEFORE YOU RESPOND to a new email inquiry, you may want to verify its origin.  You can do this by checking the IP address that comes in the header of every email.  Usually headers are hidden, but they can be turned on very simply.
Look to see if you have the option to display "Full Headers" on your email.  You may have to open your email options menu on some email services. On Yahoo mail it is a link in the lower right corner of each opened email message. When you display the "header" you get a page that includes a line close to the top of the header that reads:
X-Originating-IP:  []
This number above in red is the IP Address or Internet Provider address.  This will tell you the location of the originating server of the message. So if the emailer says he's from California and the IP reports its from Bulgaria - SCAM.  It isn't foolproof - I once got an email whose IP read "South Africa," when it was truly an email sent from across town, but IP Lookup is generally correct and a very useful tool.
How to Look up an IP address:
There are various services on the internet where you can look up an IP address, but I have found one I use that is reliable and simple to use.  Open the link below and thn copy and paste the IP in question and you will instantly be given the originating IP location.  See example below.
IP Lookup Example:

Good Sales Practices:
  • Know your buyer or seller before completing a deal or before sending or accepting a payment.  This can be done with only a few phone calls. 
  • Generally speaking, never send money via wire transfer.  There is no verifiable record and it could be picked up by anyone.
  • PayPal is very secure, but there is a variable fee that can get expensive beyond a small deposit amount.
  • Electronic transfers are fine, but I always suggest that the transfer be coordinated so that your bank account information is shared only with bank agents and not between buyer and seller.  This guarantees a secure transaction and the buyer does not get access to your personal information. 
  • Cashier's checks are notorious for being counterfeited, but you need only have your bank verify the funds with a simple phone call to the originating bank AND wait until the check is paid (usually 3 - 5 days. International transactions take significantly longer) and you are secure. 
  • Never allow your car and original title to leave your possession until funds are cleared. 
  • Always disclose the best and worst features of your car. 
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