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Car delivery scam preys on unsuspecting buyers during pandemic

How to avoid scams during coronavirus outbreak
Here's how to avoid scams and cybercriminals during coronavirus pandemic 02:47

Used car sales are on the rise and many purchasers are avoiding dealerships and having the vehicles delivered to their homes. But scam artists are capitalizing on this new way to buy a car, reports CBS Miami.

Carolyn Bui thought she found a great car for her son, who was in college, on Facebook Marketplace: a 2012 Honda Accord for just $2,000.

"I was a little doubtful a 2012 could be $2,000," Bui said.

But the seller told Bui the car was discounted for a quick sale because her husband died and she was leaving for the military. Bui asked to see the car but was told it was in storage and would be delivered instead.

"I received another email from eBay that the car is shipping to my son," Bui said.

She received a contract that appeared to have been run through eBay. So Bui sent the seller $2000 in gift cards.

But the email was a fake and the whole thing turned out to be a scam. The car never arrived and the gift cards were drained.

Experts say you should never pay someone in gift cards.

"If you paid via gift card or wire, it's unlikely you'll get your money back," according to Steve McFarland of the Better Business Bureau.

McFarland has seen a rise in car delivery scam reports during the coronavirus pandemic.

The BBB projects it will receive more than 450 complaints this year about schemes of that nature, with victims losing more than $1 million.

And that's just people they've heard from. The organization believes thousands of Americans have been fooled by the scam.

Experts say there are warnings signs to look for:

  • A car priced well below market value
  • The seller says they are leaving for the military or there's been a death in the family
  • They won't meet in person, often citing COVID as the reason
  • The scammers ask to be paid via wire transfer or gift cards
  • They want you to do this transaction very quickly

Authorities say the con artists are often overseas, making them very difficult to catch.

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