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What are some of the dangers when I sell my car?


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I've got a buyer for my car. He wants me to send him a copy of my title so he can see if there's any leins on it. He will then send me a cashier's check for the full amount. Once the check clears he will come get the car. He also wants my address etc. (to send check to). Does this seem reasonable? He seems like a nice guy and all, I just want to make sure I'm not giving too much info. Any suggestions for a rookie selling his first car this way. I'm used to face to face. Thanks.

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I wouldn't send a title document myself. I'd scan and e-mail or fax it if someone wanted to be absolutely sure about the VIN.

If you are doing a distance deal, you want the money in your bank account for sure before handing over the car or the title.

Unfortunately there are far too many scammers and swindlers out there. If something sounds funny, you can always back out. The swindlers have made it considerably harder to buy or sell a car over a distance than it was a number of years ago.

Good luck.

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Agree with the other posts urging EXTREME caution.

If this buyer is out of the country DO NOT DO ANY DEAL. Period.

If you do choose to send a copy, block out the title number and other key info. He could be trying to file for a lost or duplicate title, only using his address. He gets a copy, forges your signature, and WHAM-O, your car is now titled in HIS name.

If he wants your address, while this is going on, he can go to the dealer, show the bogus title, get a dupe set of keys, show up and drive off, and to all law enforcement authorities, it appears he is driving HIS car!

Worst case, see if your bank or credit union will act as a trusted agent to hold his money until your car arrives at his home, then release the money to you.

If HE won't trust you to believe the car doesn't have a lien, why should YOU trust what he says?

Joe

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What kind of car is it? I think the year plays a big part in this. As one post above says, if it's a relatively new car, there might be the problem of re-titling it with a forgery and getting some dupe keys made. However, with an older car, that's harder to do.

The bottom line is that you still have possession of the car, a title document that can be verified by your local DMV with a date of transfer, and an ownership history that can be backed up (I assume) with photos and other personal documents showing your association with the vehicle. Pretty hard for this guy to show up claiming that's his car and somehow take it away from you without going to court. If he's a scammer, he's not going to take a chance with that kind of scrutiny on what will be a longshot at best.

If this guy is concerned about doing a check on the VIN (which is why I assume it is a newer car), then run a CarFax for him and send him the information. A Carfax should show that title transfered on a certain date from a bank (lein holder) to a private party and that the financial trail ends there, meaning you have the title. If there are other leins, they'll show up as a bank holding the title.

Or just send him the VIN with no other information--he won't be able to glean anything from that other than the information stored in some database. Pretty hard to create a title document from just a VIN. If you look online at, say, Car Trader or eBay, you'll see that most dealers, and many private sellers, include the VIN. If there were problems with fake titles and scams and confused ownership, that wouldn't be the case.

I do agree that if it is out of country, no deal. If the messages you are getting are in broken English, no deal. If the guy is willing to buy it sight-unseen, I would use some additional caution (I purchased my Buick without looking at it first, although I had a local hobbyist have a look for me).

I would recommend using an escrow service of some kind for security on both ends, and don't let him pick up the car until the funds are verified. I have received a very good certified check for a Miata I was selling, but a call to the bank it was drafted on (the forgery included the bank's real phone number) revealed that it was bogus. And don't let him suggest an escrow service that he is "familiar" with or "uses all the time." Use a large national bank or a professional service of your choice to eliminate any possible shenanigans there.

The car doesn't leave until the money is in my account or verified by the escrow service. If it can sit there for several days without dispute, even better.

Use appropriate caution, but don't let being afraid of a scam put the kibosh on the deal.

Good luck!

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I've sold several vehicles on line and basically I tell the buyer that their check must clear the bank before the vehicle leaves the property. One of these vehicles was a 1953 Jeep that went to the UK from back here in the states. Shipping was their respondsability. I figgure, if they make it harder than it really needs to be, then their really not that interested and are trying to scam you in some way. No serious buyer has ever asked me for the paper work in advance. I always stated in the "Auction/ classified Ad" the status of the paperwork. Dandy Dave!

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Well, I appreciate all the good advice everyone has posted. After much thought I've decided to accept a cashiers check. I've told the buyer that he must provide the name and phone # for the bank where the cashiers check is drawn from and a contact there for my bank to call and verify the check has actually been paid for already. Once that's done to my satisfaction the check will have a hold placed on it for at least 10 days by my bank. The buyer has provided me with his personal info, as I've already run the reverse check on his phone #. It is for his company. As I stated earlier his emails have no suspiciousness as some have spoken of previously. He has called me and I've called him on many occasions. He seems like a very nice gentlemen. I did send him a copy on a Word document of my title (front and back) and a letter from my bank when I paid off the loan for the car a long time ago. I understand why he needs to make sure that he's buying a car without a lien on it. He needs to somewhat cautious also. The car will not be getting picked up for transport for at least 3-4 weeks. I believe that I've done my due diligence. I'll post an update once the transaction is completed. Thanks again for all the advice, as always this forum shows it's value over and over again. Thanks all.

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I'm living in France, I already bought 3 cars in USA, the last one is Mimie, my 1956 Buick Century Riviera Sedan.

I asked to the seller if the car has a clear title free of liens, also asked if the seller is the owner, a broker or a dealer, it is important because the the customer protection laws are not the same, I ask to him the #VIN of course and more detailed pictures of car.

A picture of the dataplate too.

If the car seems right for me, I'm offering to the seller to make a deposit, I order an inspection, if the car is like as described, no problem, the seller send to me his full name and adresses and full name and adresses of his bank, a copy of his identity card is well too and I make a wire transfer bank for the balance.

Once the full payment is done, the seller make all the paperwork, bill of sale, transfer of title to my name...

I arrange the inland transportation with help of the seller and shipping overseas...

Very easy...!

No problem with internationals buyers..

wink.gif

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Steve,

Just my two cents here, having bought several cars long distance and sold a couple as well. Instead of a bank cashier's check, just have him do a wire transfer from his bank account to yours. It is incredibly safe, he can't take money out of your account, only put it in, and the funds are available immediately after the transfer, no waiting 10 days or worrying whether the payment was real. Ask your banker, it is a very safe way to do business!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well the dirty deed is done !! I've completed the sale of my Roadie. I had the buyer send me his banks's customer service card of a person that my bank could contact. He sent a Bank of America business card and they were expecting a call. Once the cashiers check was in my hands I went to my bank and they called the person on the business card. They verified that funds were taken out of the buyers account and used for the cashiers check. My bank also put a hold for 5 days on the funds. The money is now available to me and I transferred it to another account in a different bank. I sent him the title priority mail with signature verification. I just had some reservations about providing my bank information to someone. He is scheduling transport and will notify me when they are to pick it up. He's getting one beautiful '50 Roadmaster 2 dr hardtop. Thanks again for all input.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Matt Harwood</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

I do agree that if it is out of country, no deal.

Good luck! </div></div>

Matt,

The same question as I posed for Joe. Why would it be " no deal " if out of the country?

Surely no one would allow their vehcle to be shipped overseas before being paid in full?

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I mean no offense to people in other countries, but in situations like this, foreign offers are often bogus. The potential buyer had some unusual requests and was looking for information that isn't usually part of the process. Things like that make me wary, being out of the country would only amplify that feeling. I have no problems with foreign buyers, but it's a trust and relationship thing, and in this case, it seemed like that might not be present.

And yes, there are obviously plenty of morons who let their cars go before they have cash in hand, otherwise these scams wouldn't be so common--if they didn't work, the scammers would give up on them, right?

I've done some business with a fellow in Australia several times, but only after I established a relationship with him. I never had any uncomfortable feelings about working with him, either, and gut feelings are often the only gauge we have.

I'm glad the transaction went through without a problem and everyone is happy.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Matt Harwood</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

And yes, there are obviously plenty of morons who let their cars go before they have cash in hand, otherwise these scams wouldn't be so common--if they didn't work, the scammers would give up on them, right?

</div></div>

The scams we are warned about are the reverse. A fictitious car is advertised or someone answers your wanted add, you get sent photos, make arrangements, send money and nothing arrives.

I find it very difficult to accept a scam working in the other direction.

Several years ago I sold a vehicle to a buyer in the UK. To complete that transaction I supplied my local bank account details ( details for electronic transfer ) and was advised when they were received. At that point in time I had full payment in my bank account and the car was still in my garage. All the "trust" was on the purchasers end.

During the sale negotiations I also faxed a copy of the registration papers ( we dont have titles as such ) to the purchaser. This was to enable him to get approval to import the vehicle. At all times it was the purchaser who had to take what I was saying at face value and I can't see how I was exposed in any way.

In Australia we have to have import approval prior to the vehicle leaving the country of origin, if we don't it is likely the cargo will not be unloaded. To obtain this approval certain information must be known about the vehicle, such as VIN numbers, full vehicle description etc.

I agree with Dandy Davies approach, all the arrangements are done by the purchaser. At the end of the day all I had to do was ensure the money was deposited into my account, fax some ownership/registration detail to the purchaser and once satisfied deliver the car to his nominated transport company.

I too don't mean any offense to people in other countries but instead of comments like " if the buyer is overseas NO DEAL, PERIOD " I would prefer someone knowledgeable in the process comment and give the pros and cons.

The restoration of motor vehicles is an international hobby and comments like this are not helpful for those of us in the hobby in the rest of the world.

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Stuart, when I sold my 71 convertible to someone in Germany, I was terrified. But I did exactly as you said above, and everything went fine. And guess what, my NEXT car I sold on ebay went to Norway. Both transactions were perfect and no more difficult than a sale in the States. I have no problem selling overseas anymore...now that I have the practice!

I think the whole issue with scams and such has made people very skeptical about any international transactions. It's definitely a scary proposition the first time, but as long as you take the right steps, you can't get burned.

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Matt explained many of my reservations well about dealing with out-of-the-country buyers.

To add to that, there are new scams being started every day. When the word gets out about a new scam to purchase a car, someone creates a scam on shipping cars. And it goes on and on......

Yes, there are legitimate buyers from overseas, but the stories of the "Nigerian bankers who have a secret account with a member of the royal family that would like to move millions out of his country" are just too common.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I find it very difficult to accept a scam working in the other direction.</div></div>

Actually, a very common scam regarding selling a car and an international buyer goes like this:

1. International buyer contacts you to buy your car (usually just referring to it as "the item").

2. Says that he has a "client" in the US who owes him money, and will have that "client" send you the money for your car so the cash will be drawn on a US bank.

3. That "payment" will also include some overage (which is, of course, what the "client" owes the buyer). You, the seller, are to cash the check, keep the cost of "the item" plus a portion of it to cover your troubles and/or shipping. You are to wire the rest to the buyer.

4. Certified check arrives in the mail, usually via Fed Ex or similar for authenticity's sake.

5. You deposit the check, and, figuring that it is a certified and/or cashier's check, wire the difference to the buyer as agreed.

6. Check is bogus and you lose.

They don't really want the car, they want the cash that people selling cars are willing to send, no questions asked. Like I said, this is how the scam worked when I was selling that Miata. I was asking $11K and the guy sent me a check for $18K, asked me to keep $13K and wire him the other $5K. Once I told him that I wouldn't do anything until the check cleared, he started insisting that since it was a cashier's check, it was good immediately and that I should wire the money (he stopped mentioning the car altogether at this point).

I have also heard of instances where sellers DO let the car go after the shipper shows up with the check from the "buyer" in hand. They load the car up and five days later, the seller finds out from his bank that the check is no good. The car and the title are long gone.

Most recently, I amused myself for a while by playing along with a scam that played out here on the forums. There was a car that was just too good to be true on eBay, but I contacted the seller and expressed my interest. The short version is that he insisted I use his escrow service and his shipper because of his "Powerseller agreement with eBay." He said it was not possible for me to <span style="font-style: italic">"fly to the car's location, drive it, hand the seller cash, and arrange my own shipping."</span> He wouldn't let me send someone to look at the car because he and the car weren't in the same place and he didn't have anyone available who could show it to my inspector.

Of course it was all BS, especially since clever forum readers showed me the same car with the same photos in another auction several months earlier where the highest bid wasn't even close to the "Buy it Now" price I was offered. What he wanted was for me to send the cash and hope the car showed up because it was a very desirable car at a rock-bottom price.

http://forums.aaca.org/ubbthreads.php/topics/523937/Anyone_in_Portland_area#Post523937

Unfortunately, a vast majority of these things come from overseas (Britain, oddly enough, is the capital of scams like these). I just recommend using good common sense and taking a few extra steps if something seems fishy. Stilted or broken English is one of the first flags to come up. Sometimes it's legit, sometimes not. Just be smart.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Matt Harwood</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I find it very difficult to accept a scam working in the other direction.</div></div>

Unfortunately, a vast majority of these things come from overseas (Britain, oddly enough, is the capital of scams like these). I just recommend using good common sense and taking a few extra steps if something seems fishy. Stilted or broken English is one of the first flags to come up. Sometimes it's legit, sometimes not. Just be smart. </div></div>

Matt,

This is far better comment than agreeing with " If the buyer is out of the country DO NOT DO ANY DEAL. Period. "

Of course caution must be used but as Dandy Dave, Adam Martin and myself have advised, safe international transactions can be made, the key being to make sure you have been paid in full before releasing the vehicle and title. The easiest way to do this is by bank to bank electronic funds transfer.

The way our economics are running at the moment our ( and your ) best markets would appear to be Germany, Norway, Sweden. I sell some vintage motorcycle parts on eBay from time to time, advertised on ebay US and more often than not I'm shipping to Europe, not the US as it was a year or two ago. And as for buying parts out of the US

the Aussie dollar at AUS$0.63 to the US$1.00 means not a lot of buying is being done down here.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Establishing a relationship is the key. I was most fortunate in dealing with a very honest Southern Gent in our transaction.

We talked for months before a deal was struck. I'm sure Mr.Earl would not have let Irene go until the funds were cleared.

BTW, I did an electronic transfer into Mr.Earl's bank account and it was instant.

Apart from a few shipping headaches everything went fine.

As for supplying title copies the buyer needs to have/ sight a clear one or the car will not leave the U.S. It is very difficult to rectify title problems from the other side of the globe.

As with any transaction, beware and go with your gut feeling.

All scammers are not just from overseas, they are local as well. I had one try to sell me a bogus 1965 Riviera which didn't exist. I actually drove a 600 mile round trip to the address that was supplied to have a look at it and guess what ? nobody knew anything about it. Luckily I didn't hand any money over beforehand ( except fuel to get there )

The only bonus was that I could look at a 1949 Super that was for sale in the same town.

As far as I'm concerned the seller holds all the cards.

He just waits until funds are cleared then ships. Or he could be a scammer himself and keep the money AND the car.

Cheers for Thursday. smile.gif

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