Internet Private Party Car Sales Sites Head for CA Public Fraud Summit

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
internet private party car sales sites head for ca public fraud summit

After yesterday’s post on rip-offs on, I looked into the Internet used car sales fraud deal. It’s a BIG deal. The industry estimates that some twenty-two million used cars were sold online last year. According to a recent FBI report, the number of complaints the agency received re: Internet fraud rose 33.1 percent during the same period, representing a $265 million loss. Yes, well, that’s the reported figure. No one knows the actual size of the car classified rip-off problem and which way it’s trending (to use the proper verbization). The companies who provide the websites where these shady deals go down ain’t gonna to fill in that blank, now are they? spokesman Mark Scott wouldn’t disclose the number of fraud tips sent to them by aggrieved/suspicious users. But he claims his employer investigates all leads within an hour of receipt.

Scott said Autotrader regularly shares fraud info with rival listing orgs, including discussions about the efficacy of their filtering and fraud detection software (whose parameters remain a closely guarded secret). Scott and his colleagues from eBay,, edmunds,, Pep Boys and Craigslist are heading off for the Petersen Museum for tomorrow’s “Fraud Abatement through Industry Response” (FAIR) summit. There will be a public panel discussion, followed by a closed door pow-wow. (If any members of our Best and Brightest can cover this event for us, please contact me at

As for the caveat emptor side of the equation, Scott is down with our previous poster’s guidelines. “Do your research. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. If you can’t talk to the seller by telephone before purchase, don’t do it. And never click on a link within an email; it can take you to a fake version of a real site.” Clever bastards.

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  • Bgluckman Bgluckman on Apr 23, 2009

    NickR-- No worries--happens all the time, actually. David H-- I think you're thinking of the Subaru SVX. I randomly saw one on my way in this morning. Most famous for the bizarre window-within-a-window treatment that allowed drivers to go triple digits in a blinding rainstorm with the windows down without getting wet. Actually, as Grand Touring coupes go, they're excellent. Another suggestion, on the sedan side: Jaguar XJR from the X308 generation (1998 - 2003), which had the supercharged V8. Great power, reasonable fuel economy (for 377 hp), and the later you go in the series, the more reliable they get. Good luck! -Brian

  • Menno Menno on Apr 23, 2009

    Yes, the SVX was the very car I saw at a used car lot just after I broomed my Corvair 2 years ago, and which got the gears slowly rotating re: getting another "toy". I had a somewhat likeable 1994 BMW 525i at a dealer south of Chicago, mulled it over, decided that 115,000 miles was not bad for a 15 year old car, called the dealer and - gee what a surprise, it was gone. These dealers are not doing themselves any good by leaving ads of cars on these websites which are sold already. I'm pretty aware of all of the rip-offs online; trust me, I'll be wanting to put my hands on the very car and title before parting with any hard earned dough-rey-me. This is partly my problem; living in northern Michigan means there aren't any decent cars like this available. Nearest "big" markets are Grand Rapids (several hours away), Chicago (several hours even farther away) and metro Detroit (5 hours in a different direction from home). Pals of mine are suggesting buying a car sight-unseen (after hiring an inspection of it) and having it shipped to me from the west coast. I'm dubious, a bit. Thoughts?

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