By on April 11, 2013

The world of towed-away cars can be a harsh one, as our very own Steven Lang often points out. Today I heard the latest in a long series of tales from the often-penumbral world of towing and repossessions, a Craigslist ad that purports to be selling a mistakenly-repoed Crown Vic. A phony ad meant to drag a clean business and its owner into a world of pain— an all-too-common occurrence in the maddening world of Craigslist cars-for-sale listings— or something that will soon have the constabulary asking a lot of pointed questions in a certain Maryland tow yard’s office?
24 Hours of LeMons Legend Speedycop, who happens to have a day job as a Washington DC police officer (and never looks for potential race cars while he’s on duty), found a too-good-to-be-true ad for a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria with free bonus ’99 Crown Victoria as part of the deal.
Hmmm… something about this doesn’t smell quite right. Let’s read the text of the ad (redacted in case this is a burn job by a vengeful ex-girlfriend and/or business rival):
“1 1998 crown Vic with title n runs great and. 1999 crown Vic with no title. The second was repossessed my my company ■■■■■, but was the wrong repoed and we never took back. Car runs great n in mint condition. Can get up a title by swapping vins easily. 100.00 for both. I own ■■■■■ REPOSSESSION COMPANY. IF WANT TO BUY ASAP CALL 410 ■■ ■■■■, my name is ■■■■■. Best time to reach me is at night or here’s my address to stop by n look at em. ■■■■■ ■■■■■ rd. fallston md. Both must go ASAP. Feel free to stop by anytime at my residence. TY. Ill be home all night at furnace rd or my business at ■■■■■ ■■■■■ rd. Nottingham md. Please rush”
So, Speedycop has informed his law-enforcement colleagues in the Baltimore area about this ad, and let’s just say that they’re verrrrrry interested. Mistakenly-repoed car being offered with the suggestion of a VIN swap, or reprehensible burning-bag-o-dog-poop-on-the-porch prank? The “I’ll be home all night” and ridiculously low selling price suggests the latter, but who can say? We’ll let you know what happened, once the dust settles.

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13 Comments on “Vengeful Scam On Legit Repo Man or Crooked Repo Man Selling Stolen Car? You Decide!...”

  • avatar

    If it was one car for, say, $1500 with a second offered for free as part of the deal, and if less information was offered… oh yeah, scam or stolen cars, perhaps both. This reeks of someone yanking someone else’s chain, though.

    Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if a moderately dishonest business is being raked over the coals in a rather extreme fashion by a previously-burned customer.

  • avatar

    Oh. My. God.

    That picture of the racing pop-up just made my whole week!

    Thank you Murilee.

    I haven’t laughed that hard since watching that video of the transvestites laying siege to that McDonald’s.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My experience with my local DMV Craigslist is as follows:

    MD private party listings: local scams, the kind where you go to buy a car and wind up waking up 2 days later without your kidneys.
    MD dealer listings: So, how does 35% interest for 72 months sound?

    DC dealer listings: nearly 100% international scams (where in DC are those palm trees in the background of the picture you took?) – here are some examples I just now brought up from the first page of listings:
    2007 Chevy tahoe loaded – $2800 (washington dc) pic
    2008 mercury mountaineer loaded – $2500 (washington dc) pic
    2008 Cadillac Escalade Ext – $3200 (washington dc) pic
    That’s 3 of the 4 listings in the DC section that actually list DC as the location (the 4th was a spamming dealer in Alexandria, VA)

    VA dealer listings: shady beyond shady dealers trying to unload terrible cast off auction cars from their dealership that changes names twice a week and never has the car listed sitting at the lot at the address listed, it’s at the other lot (whch is an out of sight fenced in junkyard)

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve bought and sold a number of cars through the DMV craigslist over the years.

      Selling is easy: price it right, link through to lots of pics, disclose all issues, and include a phone number. Serious buyers call. Period. On the phone I say we will conclude the transaction in the lobby of my bank with either cash or a cashiers check and that I will pull the license plates (normal in VA) at that time. I also tell them I will write their name on the back of the title where it says “sold to” and that we will execute two copies of a bill of sale, one for each of us. I tell them they may test drive after I take a picture of their driver license and they leave the keys to the vehicle they came in with me. I usually go with them as well. They can leave a cash deposit if they want to have their mechanic check it out, and I’ll give them a receipt. I only negotiate when someone is standing facing me with money in their hands. It’s worth noting that this hard-ass approach works because I price the car right; I’m trying to get rid of it after all. A lot of would-be buyers give up before the conversation is over; there will be more because the car is priced right!

      Buying is more complicated. Call and get the VIN and info about who maintained the car (then call that shop) and when it last passed safety and emissions inspection. Ask if they own the car and the title is in their own name; write them off if not. Google the VIN and key phrases in the description: you may find a different add with a lower price, or discover that the car was sold recently and is being resold. For Virginia, I can tell if the letter sequence on the license plate is consistent with the year of the car or the story. I pretty much only shop for one-owner cars being sold by people who don’t want to be low-balled on their trade in. These people recognize me as a kindred spirit so we have something to go on. For a newish car I prefer dealer-maintained cars with transferable factory-extended warranties from new.

      I also hunt for and have sold several collector-type cars. In these cases I like to do both a craigslist ad and post a link to the ad to a relevant marque forum. With these buyers and sellers it’s usually easy to develop a common understanding as fans and things go smoothly. I shy away from sellers who do not have an enthusiast understanding of the car unless they have owned the car for a very long time or it has a family history. A strong negotiating point with these cars is often simply the ability to close the deal quickly.

  • avatar

    That’s why I flag the hell out of the obvious ripoffs/scams. I know the only people who would make contact with the “seller” must be fools but I don’t want to make it easy for scam artists.
    I mean, seriously, can’t they make it a little less obvious?

  • avatar

    As a criminal lawyer, I can attest that, yes, criminals really can be that stupid.

  • avatar

    This sounds like something my ex-sister-in-law, Satan, would do.

  • avatar

    Forgive my ignorance, but can someone explain to me the whole purpose behind some of the Craigslist scams? I see them all the time, selling nice vehicles for an unreasonably low price. The contact info always seems vague. Are they just trying to get access to your email or personal information? Or, are they trying some kind of bait and switch?

    • 0 avatar


      Two items happen:
      1. Selling scams: They want you to send entire purchase price via Western Union which then can be picked up any where Western Union has an office so scammer in West Africa can get almost a years wage from one stupid American trying to buy a $3800 Honda Accord.

      2. Buying scams: They will send you fake check (possibly written on a legitimate company’s info) for more than your vehicles sales amount “for our agent to use for shipping costs”, have you deposit fake check into your account, and then request you to send the overage back to them via Western Union. The banks take a couple days to figure out that the check is fake and then you are stuck with the loss of money which you sent to scammers.

      When selling anything on craigslist I always specify that I will ship offshore after the check clears plus two weeks and/or that I accept foreign buyers who send international money orders in US dollars only. An international money order is a real item, it has to be issued by a real bank institution, and it is usually much more difficult to fake the document versus printing a fake check.

      Any time you have a scam question use google to describe the transaction (“online car buying” “foreign lottery notification” etc) and then add “scam” to the search terms to find links to explanation websites. Other websites such as US government and states attorney generals and state Better Business Bureaus typically have scam alert pages too which can teach you about these.

      • 0 avatar

        I ran into one where a scammer posed as a recent devorcee who got posession of her ex’s car and just wanted to be rid of it. They claimed to be selling the car through a small business program serviced through Amazon. The claim was that you send the money to Amazon, they process it and insure the purchase.

        Of course, it was fake. The payment info didn’t pass the smell test, and when asked, Amazon denied offering such a service.

  • avatar

    On a totally unrelated note, the concept of buy one, get one free raises an interesting question about LeMons. A few years ago, Hyundai had a buy a car, get an Accent for $1. Could someone enter that brand new Accent in LeMons because it very officially cost (and thus is worth?) less than $500?

  • avatar

    Thanks for the info. Makes sense now. I’m tired of seeing these ads on Craigslist. i’m also tired of dealers not listing their price or mileage.

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