How would this eBay scam work? (I had a close escape today!)

I bought a car on eBay two years ago, but am otherwise a relative newbie to the process.

I bid on a BMW then went over the selling details one more time. A few things caught my eye and I did some research that yielded these oddities:

-The model was listed as a “338i.” No such model exists. My first thought was that the seller made a typo for a “328i.”

-Mileage was listed as 1,000. VIN search came up as 18,000 on odometer.

-VIN research indicates the car was a 2013; it was listed on eBay as a 2012.

-The (one) posted photo is a 2007 filched from another website.

-Apparently, the car had been posted before from a personal seller who claimed to have owned it for two years. Now the ad indicates the car is being sold from a dealership in Michigan.

-CarFax shows that the car was a lease in New Jersey, then sold at auction a few months ago.

I retracted my bid (of course) and am now curious about how this apparent scam would work. Would the seller collect the deposit from the auction winner and disappear? Is the car stolen?

High weirdosity . . .

They probably would have just taken your deposit, or asked for some kind of other expense like shipping costs, hotel money, gas, or whatever other nonsense they could talk the victim into paying for. Then they cash out and vanish. You file a complaint with eBay/PayPal and they refund your money, then take it out in fees on the rest of us. That’s usually how it goes.

I can’t imagine they were trying to sell a stolen car. That is an extremely inefficient and not-smart way to fence it. But you never know… There are some really stupid criminals out there.

I have been in and around a couple of classic car groups for a long time, and it’s a fairly common event for someone to recognize someone else’s car in a listing for sale. Scammers scour the net for pretty car pictures, especially prior sale or concours sets, and use them to fabricate listings like the one the OP encountered. Of course, restored/customized Mustangs, Camaros, Cobras etc. are as individual as fingerprints and often well known to dozens or hundreds of active enthusiasts, so the pics get spotted and sometimes lead to arrests by sting operations.

But yeah, anytime the trail doesn’t add up… move on.