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Car-Buying Scams: 5 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Car buying scams abound. Put simply, there’s no shortage of shady individuals who pose as private car sellers to pull a fast one on an unsuspecting car buyer. Recently, more than 60 victims trooped to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file their cases against a syndicate that allegedly sold rented cars to them and ran away with their money.

Car salesman

Considering that the money you invest in buying a car is the result of your own blood, sweat and tears, you need to know how to protect yourself and avoid parting with your money on a lie. In nearly all cases, falling victim to scams can be avoided if a buyer practiced better caution.

If the offer sounds too good to be true it likely is. Carmudi gives you these five tips to prevent yourself from stumbling and falling into a car buying scam.

1. Know the actual price of the vehicle

Scammers often use low prices to entice victims. If the price of the vehicle seems too low in comparison to what the typical value of that make and model is, then you’ll want to know the reason behind this. If you can’t verify the reason, or if there’s something off about it, it may be better for you to walk away from the sale. Remember, there’s always another car out there that can suit your needs just fine.

2. Verify the seller’s and the car’s identity

Ask the seller for proof of identity. Make sure it’s a government-issued ID, such as a Social Security card or driver’s license. Check that the seller’s name and address match what’s printed on the vehicle registration form. As well, make sure you’re looking at the original registration form and not just a copy. With the registration form, compare the make, model, year, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car with what’s on paper. Check for evidence of tampering.

3. Never use wire transfers for payments

Legitimate car sellers will never use wire transfer. If you’re dealing with a private seller and they insist that you use a wire transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram, ask to use another mode of payment—preferably one where proof of identification is necessary. Scammers love using wire transfers because these services often have lenient application processes, making them difficult to trace. Once the money disappears, you won’t be able to recover it.

4. Use anti-stolen car tools

You may hold the keys in your hands and have the paperwork stating you’re the vehicle’s registered owner, but none of these confirm that the law supports your car ownership. If the car is stolen, technically, it still belongs to the original owner. You can find out if a vehicle is stolen by texting its plate number to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) SMS service. Just text LTO VEHICLE (insert vehicle plate number here) then send to 2600. After the LTO’s computers check out their database, you’ll have your information.

Another tool that you can use is the Highway Patrol Group’s (HPG) Facebook account. Since August 2015, each of the HPG’s regional units have been using their Facebook accounts to post information on the vehicles they recovered. Though it certainly takes time and effort to sift through the pictures, it’s time well spent as long as you avoid purchasing a stolen car.

5. Take the vehicle for a pre-purchase inspection

Test drive going well

When you get the chance to inspect the vehicle, do so thoroughly to make sure everything is in good working condition. The true owner of the vehicle will know which parts are malfunctioning or broken, so if he’s just as surprised as you that the electric window won’t budge, start being wary. Get an independent mechanic to give the vehicle a detailed inspection. When taking the car out for a test drive, take at least 15 to 30 minutes to accurately gauge how well the vehicle runs. Offer to pay the gas if you have to.

Do you have any other anti-car buying scam tips that you can share with us? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  1. Ade
    March 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm — Reply

    I send a request regarding your ads of your used car. Somebody answer me and he said he appointed someone to process the transaction because he is in Belgium…and the unit is in the pay parking/lodge?
    I think he is a scammer.

    • Jun
      March 24, 2018 at 3:53 pm — Reply

      Hi Ade,

      I believe this is the Toyota Vios E 2011 A/T.
      I have also sent a request for info on the same car.
      The supposed owner stated that he is in Belgium but he has appointed someone to act on his behalf.
      How did you know of the unit’s whereabouts?
      Appreciate your reply.

  2. Road
    March 20, 2018 at 10:26 am — Reply

    I experienced something exactly the same on a BMW.

  3. Kris
    March 25, 2018 at 10:42 pm — Reply

    Same experience with a 2014 Chevy Sonic. Is the Belgian guy Rey Alarcon? I got scared with this site all of a sudden. Good thing I visited this article. Carmundi pls work on this.

  4. Ranel
    March 26, 2018 at 12:31 pm — Reply

    I contacted a seller of a 2015 Isuzu Mu-X… He said he is in Paris and appointed someone in his behalf to make the transaction… I got worried because about a year ago i also receive same kind of reply when i inquire on a 2010 Honda CR-V.

    Carmudi please check on this if this is a legitimate seller.


  5. choy
    March 28, 2018 at 11:18 pm — Reply

    im almost there a victim of the scammer his name rey alarcon in his email add. and his real name is SIDIKI CONDE, he live in laayoune Morocco ZIPCODE 70000,and his phone no. +212612123452 he gave it to me yesterday, i sent him my money in money gram after i deposit the money he ask me the reference no. ,thats the time i felt something wrong about this transaction, i never give the reference no. to him,thanks GOD i got my money back , i hope CARMUDI will do your best to caught those person doing a very very bad things in our country.. carmudi please give action of it,because many people can be a victim of those people,his companion name mr james hora. please make it action for this problem, you have already the identity of that person,

  6. March 28, 2018 at 11:22 pm — Reply

    mr rey is SIDIKI CONDE, live in LAAYOUNE MOROCCO, zipcode 70000,with the phone no. +212612123452

  7. April 4, 2018 at 10:12 am — Reply

    Hello fellow Carmudi users, using the information you provided, we were able to identify the scammer’s account. Accounts and listings are deactivated already. We will continue to monitor such issues to ensure that Carmudi continues to be a trustworthy site for you to use, and appreciate your continuous help to inform us of any dubious posts and accounts. Hopefully, the tips in this article helped you avoid parting with your hard-earned money.

      June 12, 2018 at 11:14 pm — Reply

      Hello Sir Wilbert Tan:

      Plano po naming bumili ng Toyota Innova 2014-2017 model sa lists for sale ng Carmudi. First time car owner po ako and my son will do the driving. May may kaunting savings and trying to invest a good value on a second hand car. Pwede po magpa-assist, Sir.

      My email is; cp 09263431930.

  8. April 12, 2018 at 9:22 am — Reply

    i recently talk to the guy name fr. rommel arcilla molina and he said he is currently on a training in Morocco or work for 9 months. he told me that his care taker was taking care of his cars snce he was in morrocco and he told me to send him my information. like my name my address and email address and cp number. it was the ford 2010 ford escape whit color and automatic trans. after a days he told me to send money in western union in my choice of name it could be my family or friends but the country is morrocco. he ask me hkw money times to make a transfer so that it would be safer for me and him. but i keep on asking him to give his number or his caretaker’s number so that my causin can check it coz he is a mechanic. he keep insisting that his care taker will deliver the unit and the car is in great shape. but ofcourse i am not buying all of the words come from him. we dont have his number or his side kick an he tell me to deposit money in western union after that send him the copy of the receiptso that he knows that the mo ey is there and to proof that im a real buyer. then all of the sudden i think if i give him the receipt he can claim the money just easy like that with all the information including controlled number. he almos got me but i message him today that he is stupid and a scammer.

  9. Anonymous
    May 12, 2018 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    I have not encountered owners who resides in the Philippines, ALWAYS from morroco or leaving the country tonight, good thing I didnt present any Identification since I received identification from a certain caretaker.. poor man Im certain these people uses someones identity as their caretaker.. same modus.. asking to send money to moneygram to moroco. Claiming they’re French national however, cant even speak to me in french after a greeting line. 10 out of 10 encounters different vehicles. All scammers. Please look into this Carmudi

  10. Judith
    May 30, 2018 at 2:24 am — Reply

    Hi I also experience this today, wanted to buy a hiace and keep insisting to give him a copy of money transaction

  11. Edison Bernabe E. Remitio
    June 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm — Reply

    Try to investigate also this red 4×4 pick-up 2014 model @ 475k being advertised here. It is with the same story.

  12. June 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    Hello. 你好。 想问一下。希望能帮我。谢谢

  13. June 9, 2018 at 2:37 am — Reply

    Hi. I once almost fell into the hands of a scammer. Thanks Carmudi for the tips. May i just suggest.. for the benefit of the Carmudi users and for the Carmudi itself to be a continuing trustworthy website, perhaps we the users can get rid of these scammers should there be a stringent measures from your end in screening sellers posting anomalous ad in your website. Pre-empt scammers before reaching into your site. It would be a very nice browsing experience if all cars posted for sale are all legitimate. Thank you.

  14. June 19, 2018 at 12:29 pm — Reply

    Please investigate ANTHONY ANDRE RAYMOND PORTIER( we’re supposed to buy 2014 HYUNDAI GRAND STAREX MT. He said he is in BELGIUM. TRANS SKY AIRLINES will deliver the vehicle, but we will send the money thru MONEY GRAM. Glad we didnt send the money. My friend told us that it is a SCAM.

  15. Anonymous
    June 19, 2018 at 1:10 pm — Reply

    Same with subaru xv 275K worth. Please investigate.

  16. June 21, 2018 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    Yes recently i was victimized with sindicate transaction has made thru email, as person and i am always i good faith when dealing something for sime reason i was like emhnotized with this two perso Name Roniel Salgado Romero and foriegner name Rudolf Brils until i tranfer them the money to Morroco coz he said that hes in abroad and promise that unit will be deliver by Roniel Romero on same day but nothing and now the pick up was still posted i hope somebody help to find this two evil person to stop this.( Nissan Navarra plate# ZML 118, Blue color Automatic price of 370k) Please us.

    • Anonymous
      June 27, 2018 at 7:11 am — Reply

      I am currently transacting with mr rudolf brils now until i saw your comment .

    • Cristofer Javier
      June 30, 2018 at 11:43 am — Reply

      @Arnulfo Nietes, thank you for posting it here, I am contacted by Rudolf Brils selling a Toyota Innova Plate # ZAH114 (price P245K)

  17. Jerry T Cuadra
    July 4, 2018 at 11:36 pm — Reply

    He is the one,rudolf blis,he is selling me a toyota innova 2013 model for 180k and willing to give it to me for 150k and told me that his caretaker will deliver the unit to me,a certain romero. Too good to be true,sometimes it’s not true

  18. Eduardo Santos
    July 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm — Reply

    I am recently victimized by certain rudolf brils and his caretaker rhoniel salgado thru email transaction. I deposit the money thru western union address to morocco with different name of recepient and the car will deliver by his caretaker but nothing. Still the money was withdrawn on the same day. The car was posted at Philmotors Phils. Pajero Shogun 2006 with plate no. BDZ 913 color white automatic.

  19. Seighfred Tamayo
    July 12, 2018 at 4:03 am — Reply

    Rudolf brils with email send me a mail selling a Lancer ex, same modus.
    He left the car with a caretaker and asking for personal details and stuff and will deliver the car…
    Be careful guys.

  20. Sheila
    July 14, 2018 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the info. Rudolf Hendrika Brils is also selling Suzuki Swift. Almost a victim if not for your posts. Thanks a lot.

  21. kat
    July 16, 2018 at 10:37 pm — Reply

    i am currently transacting with rudolf blis he is selling a mazda 3 2005 model plate number ZCY 632. it sound too good to be true so checked and looked up his name on the internet. thank you guys for your comments.

  22. Anonymous
    July 17, 2018 at 11:08 am — Reply

    I just received a reply about my inquiry from Rudolf Brils. He’s selling a Toyota Hilux 2012 for Php350k only! That’s apparently what we can consider as “too good to be true”! And so I searched for his name and found this article from Carmudi.

  23. Romeo Buenaventura
    July 18, 2018 at 1:18 pm — Reply

    Thanks Carmudi. Nearly got conned by the name Rodulf BRILS.
    But I confirm my suspicion when I read your site. Too good to be true for his Innova 2014 automatic for P260K . This person should go to jail.

  24. Anonymous
    July 23, 2018 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    Im another victim of rudolf brils and rhoniel salgado romero. hope the authorithies will find them.

  25. Klay
    July 23, 2018 at 10:23 pm — Reply

    I also received the same situation of scam and I am trying to buy a Mitsubishi Lancer Ex 2009 MX A/T
    the scammer name is under Mr. ERCEL LABRADORES SABAGQUIT
    and told me through email that he is currently on tour in FRANCE for a training course 09 months so he had entrusted his car to his carrier. With that I found a site below:
    stating the exact name of the scammer, Carmudi please investigate on this as a first time buyer, this is not a good experience to us.


  26. August 10, 2018 at 10:32 pm — Reply

    I found a ’07 ford everest for sale on and have been doing research to see if snyone has been contacted by this individual who is abroad.. This man says his name is Erwin Funk.. Says he is 59 yrs old and is Dutch. He will be abroad until november of 2019 or so he says. He tels me that the vehicle is left with a carrier and will bedelivered to my houseat which time i will be able to verify the status of the vehicle and the paperwork.. But what made me suspicious was the fact that i inquired about another vehicle and this time a woman answered claiming to be in morocco for training., as they saying goes, my head is already round, please dont make it rounder.. These people need to be investigated by the NBI and Interpol to try and stem these scams. For all we know they could funding terrorist activities abroad.

    • Dom lobjois
      April 30, 2019 at 11:53 am — Reply

      He also said the same thing to me for chrysler 300c. Good thing i read this article thank you

  27. Paul Whiteway
    August 17, 2018 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    Another victim of Rudolf Hendrika Brils. Lost 120k. I hope Carmudi can “red flag” him. I will inform Western Union about his Moroccan operation also.

  28. Anonymous
    October 17, 2018 at 11:43 am — Reply

    my situation is the same as that of Ms. Electra Wagner the only difference is that the owner of the car is a woman. I knew there is something fishy because when I insist to let the unit checks by my son she deviates to answer the request. her alleged name is Rivara Rubia whos’ in Morocco also. The unit is Isuzu Dmax LS 2015 model

  29. Roberto
    October 26, 2018 at 7:42 pm — Reply

    hi, I just made a deal with a guy name Dalere Edibert Sulit, he has an Isuzu crosswind 2005 for 250k, I have negotiated with him, I haven’t paid but he said that he is in Germany, and come back till April, he said that he can send the car to the place I live, since he paid the carrier to deliver the car once the car is bought, and to inspect the car and sign the deed of sale and pay.
    reading all this I dont know what to do anymore, I will take precautions in checking the papers if they match, but still is fishy !
    pls let me know if you have any info regarding this person and this car.

    November 4, 2018 at 4:30 pm — Reply

    I would like to know, if payment is done via Paypal is Ok? I have a buyer whose willing to pay, but only in a Paypal account. Could you give me an advice. Thank you

    • November 14, 2018 at 3:09 pm — Reply

      Hi Alan,
      As much as possible, try not to do your payment transactions online. Paypal is secure, but still–you never know, right? Face-to-face transactions, with a good, solid receipt to back you up is always the best.

  31. Boy Iniego
    December 4, 2018 at 1:59 pm — Reply

    Recently, at Carmudi again while looking for a used L300 Mitsu a certain George Lawson Scot surfaced at my email. Same modus — he has a caretaker who will deliver the car after I send the very cheap amount of 250K for 2016 L300 Mitsu. Manloloko angmga ito!!! Ingat po.

    • Anonymous
      September 17, 2019 at 8:32 am — Reply

      did he tell you that he has all the papers prepared, and willing to deliver the car in your house?

  32. Alberto
    January 1, 2019 at 8:25 am — Reply

    This is my first time to visit this website and all i read is a scam transaction.
    From March 2018 until December 2018. I wonder what Carmudi is doing to stop these kind of modus.
    I feel so bad for those who lost their hard earned money.
    Anyways listing a very low price car in their website will generate more traffic/visitors. It might be the reason why they still allow those scammers to post. Could be an inside job

  33. Alex
    January 18, 2019 at 9:34 am — Reply

    thanks for the tips. . . I am planning to buy a second hand car and I am glad that I found Carmudi. . . If ever I decide, I will certainly make sure that this is endorsed by Carmudi. . .

  34. March 4, 2019 at 8:20 am — Reply

    On the website a roger cooper is selling a fiat Dino, very under priced, SCAM. Offer to good to be true offered to ship for free,then give me seven days to check it out, wanted payment to shipping coampany wire transfer,…..I here he’s done it before, I wanted the car so bad,lackey my common sense let the little voice in my head take or ibe out 50 large, be smart to good to be true it is… happy motoring to all

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