Buying a used car, seller wants to go through ebay

I’d like to hear your experiences with buying a car online, with a distant seller.

Every Monday I look through cars online thinking that if I ever find one that I like, I’m going to buy it. Lo and behold, I find a phenomenal deal. I met the seller on Craig’s list. I find out that he’s not in my area, but rather several hundred miles away (and so is the car, in Colorado). It’s much too long for me to drive and I don’t have enough vacation days left to go and pick it up. He says not to worry, that we can complete the transaction through ebay, and take advantage of their Vehicle Protection Program. Has anyone used it? Is it reliable?

Usually, I go through dealer financing because I qualify for their best rates and financing options which have been better than at the banks in my area. Will banks be more or less willing to loan me money to buy a car that I am essentially buying off of ebay?

I’ve asked for the VIN number. His ad answers pretty much all my questions about the car. The guy is in the air force and needs to leave, which explains the fire sale of the car, but the offer is just too good to be true. Is there any other way to protect myself in case of a lemon? Thanks in advance for the responses.

I don’t have the cash on hand, and normally I like to go through financing. I haven’t bought many cars in my life, but I’ve always qualified for dealer financing which is better than what my banks give me.

This is absolutely 100% a scam. Craigslist even gives you some tips for avoiding scammers:

You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:
DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on craigslist.
NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”
NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)

Well, seeing as how the guy wants to move the transaction over to ebay, how can it be a scam? When I say “move over to ebay,” I mean, what if he puts it on a Buy-It-Now on ebay, and I happen to go through the site and buy it. Does ebay’s Vehicle Protection Program work like it says it would? What are the risk involved?

While I don’t share Samm’s enthusiasm for the fact this is a scam, I would use some caution when investigating the sale to make sure this guy is the real owner of the car, and maybe paying for a CarFax report regarding possible lemon/salvage issues once you have the VIN number.

I would try to verify he’s really in the Air Force if possible (ask rank, what base, and other information he should be able to readily supply), and ask the bank or credit union what they would like to have in the way of proof before doing the transaction as protection, because surely they have seen car scams before and know the warning signs.

While I certainly agree it is better to deal with people you meet in person, sometimes it’s just not possible. You seem pretty satisfied with all the information you’ve received and I presume it’s not been a series of replies written in broken Nigerian English that sounds like an obvious scam up front.

I would also ask how this person intends to ship you the car and why they specifically would want to go through eBay which would cost them money, unless it is for protection on their end. If it was me, personally, I would make arrangement to fly out and pick up the car, then drive it back over a weekend. I just couldn’t buy a car sight unseen like that.

Well, I can’t argue with you about it. I say take your chances and report back how that works for you. No one has ever been scammed through ebay. Ask yourself this: why isn’t he advertising this awesome bargain on his local craigslist? You said the offer is too good to be true, so if he posted it locally, I’m sure someone would snap it up in Colorado. I have been shopping on craigslit a lot lately to find a truck. All of the trucks that sound like awesome deals just happen to be in other states. But that’s probably just coincidence right? I’ve had several “sellers” give me the ebay line when I have inquired on their vehicles too. Why don’t they just put it on ebay to begin with then?

I have no idea why people don’t start the process one way or another. I know some people don’t like using ebay in general. Some people don’t like using car dealerships. Maybe this should be in GQ. At this point in the transaction, before I go any further, I want to know how and if Vehicle Purchase Protection actually works. I’ve read the web site, but it doesn’t discuss what happens procedurally.

I also never bought a car out of state, but I’ve read about people who have. I want to know what Doper experiences are like with people who have gone through this transaction.

I’ve never sold a car on eBay but I did buy one. Irrelevent I suppose…

But my WAG.

Listing anything on eBay incurs listing fees whether or not the item sells. I suspect that for a vehicle with a buy-it-now listing this wouldn’t be a completely insignificant number. So while the seller is willing to pay the listing fee, he just wants to make sure he’s got a buyer lined up.

I really don’t see how ebay’s vehicle purchase protection is going to make your car magically appear at your doorstep… Sure, the VPP will protect you if the guy is trying to rip you off (if you meet the eligibility requirements) but that doesn’t solve the problem of getting the car from point A to point B.

I agree that this is likely a scam. It has all the hallmarks: too good to be true deal, buyer has to sell fast, out of state, and offers Ebay as protection. Ebay’s protection may be superb, but I am willing to bet that rather than listing it through Ebay, he will just tell you that if you pay him through Paypal you will be protected - you won’t.

If you post a link to the craigslist ad, I bet somebody can find the same car listed for sale elsewhere in the country.

Try going to and searching for the exact text of the ad, I bet you will find it all over.

If the car exists, having it shipped is trivial. There are dozens of reputable shipping companies that will move just about anything from point A to point B.