Selling a Used Car Online? Be Aware of a Possible Scam

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by yummyyummybrains

I’m trying to sell my car online by owner, because the trade-in price is a joke. In addition to the usual remote-buyer scams (i.e. “please consider it sold, give me full name & address to send a check”), I’ve encountered 2 or 3 instances of a slightly more involved scam.

Essentially, you’ll get a phone call from a random number. If you answer, the caller will use a canned line — something like “Hi, I’m wondering if your car is still for sale?” I’m pretty sure it’s a recording. Once you respond, the line will go dead, but not hang up. If you hang up on the call, within a few moments you’ll receive a text from the same number saying that they’re having phone trouble. They’ll ask one or two obvious questions (even if that info is in the online posting).

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Then, they’ll ask if you could go to some shady URL to pull a report on the VIN number, and then send it to a random email address (like firstname349864 @ If you respond, like I have, that you already have a CarFax report available for their review, they’ll pretty much ignore your responses and press you to go to the URL they provided.

In the latest iteration of this, the person told me to go to I did some cursory Googling, and nothing came up — although a crapton of other, similar fly-by-night VIN check services did come back.

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I’m honestly not sure what the endgame is by pushing feckless car sellers to a random VIN check website. I imagine at the very least, they get money from you to “run the VIN”. Who the hell knows if that is accurate. Plus, by doing so they get your full name, address, birthday, and CC details. Just imagine all the wonderful ways they can screw up your life with that info in hand.

Remember — Google Voice is your friend. You can block these idiots easily, and they never get your actual phone number — just the spoofed number Google assigned to you.


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