Internet scam... Who do I contact?

Hi all,

Serious question here. I saw a car I was interested in learning more about on one of the auto web sites I subscribe to. The picture looked very familiar, which is another reason it piqued my interest.

I wrote to get more pictures, and I received an email telling me that she is a recently divorced woman, and has no use for her ex-husbands car. So she is selling it at an incredible discount.

Then she says she needs my name, address, and phone number, and she will set up a transaction with Google Wallet. I’ve never heard of google wallet, but ok…here’s how she explains how it works. She will send me the car, all documentation, keys, etc. and I will have 15 days to get it checked out, drive it around and decide if I want it. If I do, fine, I tell google wallet and the money is hers. If not, the car gets shipped back to her (across the country, it turns out) at her expense.

Now, before I read any of this, I knew this was a scam because of her broken English writing (which I doubt is anything but someone faking a bad written accent), and a few other things that didn’t seem right.

Before I gave her any info, I decided to see if I could get more information. I asked her for more pics of the car in three successive emails, and finally received them when I gave her a phony name and address. Turns out the car was the same car I saw for sale on eBay about 8 months ago, and the pictures were pulled off the site in the same order I saw them months ago. I still have the pics on my hard drive from before!

So, I want to know what, if anything, I can do about this. There are stupid people out there, and if even one poor sap gets screwed by this person, I would be upset. However, I don’t want to waste my time giving this to the wrong law enforcement agency that may take a report, but will toss it in the trash because they have a billion other more important things to do.

Is there a place I can turn this in, and hopefully have the scammers tracked down?


There is a web site called TheScamBaiter where some of the members turn the tables, so to speak, on the people (and I guess organizations, too) that engage in that sort of thing.

Google Wallet is not a “escrow service”. Its a payment service only, payments are irreversible.

IF something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
Why wouldn’t the lady take the car down to the local car yard and get cash straight away ? Private sales are for the buyer to get a price inbetween the car yard’s buy price and sell price ; (or to scam naive people, even if its at the regular price, it could be a scam still… eg selling car when someone still owes money on it… the creditor can still take the car of any buyer.)

Anyway, Escrow on vehicles is basically impossible… You can’t get a car on trial.

Google Wallet suggest reporting scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (

Also flag the item as a fraud with the website is advertised on.

The car may be legitimately for sale elsewhere.
Once I was looking for a place to rent. It was quite cheap ,They said they were overseas and so I couldn’t call them “but here is my email address”. They said “just pay the bond and then get the key in the post”. No inspections before paying the bond… The place was at Canterbury

I did a search on the email address, he was also selling a Mitsubishi truck … really cheap.

So I I got to ask lots of questions.

“What are the traffic conditions near the apartment ?
I want know, because I want to buy your truck too, I want to drive my Canter in Canterbury !”
(True story ! Its true, he was scamming a rental he said was at Canterbury WHILE scamming a Canter truck too !)

You initially saw the car advertised on a reputable website? Tell the administrators, if you haven’t already.

Has anything the scammer sent you included a link to a web site? If so do you mind PM’ing the link to me?

Did a bit more research, and also contacted the sites that the ad was seen on.

I have an automatic search done through This apparently goes to various sites that they own or have access to. I did a search on google for the title of the ad, and the same exact ad came up on two different websites, each claiming the car for sale, only one was in Texas, the other in Pennsylvania.

I flagged them both and also sent a note, but I’m sure the note will go nowhere, as the fine print stated that if I had a problem to just flag the ad and that’s it.

Someone asked for links from the emails sent to me, but there are no clickable links in the messages sent to me.

I also read up of google wallet and that would be a bad way to go. No escrow at all. Once your money goes in, it gets transferred.

I’ll check out that site TheScamNaiter also.


ScamBaiter is a nonsense site. If you want to report this, the correct place is the Internet Crime Complaint Center, run by the FBI. It’s helpful for a variety of reasons, not the least of which it helps them investigate coordinated internet scams, which are increasingly the purview of organized crime.


If that’s actually what happens, what’s wrong with that, and how will the scammer benefit?

Or does something happen along the road like asking for the money earlier? I’m trying to figure out how this works.

It’s not what actually happens. You give them the money, they never send you the car.

The supposed chain of events:

  1. Contact seller
  2. put money in Google Wallet
  3. get car
  4. test car
  5. authorize sale

The actual chain of events:

  1. Contact seller
  2. put money in Google Wallet
  3. be sad you got scammed.

Your state attorney general may have a link for reporting consumer complaints. Chances are that it will be filed with 50,000 others and see no action, but if yours contributes to identifying a trend, it could be useful.

I guess I don’t understand how Google Wallet works. How can the seller get your money if you haven’t yet authorized the sale?

I can put money in PayPal, but no seller gets it until I authorize a sale. What’s the point of authorizing a sale if the seller already has the money?

The part you’re missing is that Google Wallet is like paypal, in that once you send the seller the money you can’t get it back. In the above scenario, if you didn’t like the car the scammer is saying you could get your money back, as though Google Wallet were an escrow service. It is not, you’re never getting your money back.

Then what’s the point of having an “authorization” option? If you’ve already sent the money, what does authorization do?

This is my understanding of how the scenario would play out if I were not aware of what’s going on and put my money in.

Here’s the thing. The scammer wants my name address and contact info to set up my google wallet account. So, my guess is, that when I put money into the account, they will give authorization to themselves and take the money. The excuse they gave for having my info to set up the google wallet accout was unclear, so I assume this is why they do this.

And ScamBaiter is not a site to seriously report anything like this.

The point is that the seller is going to lie about how Google Wallet works. They are going to convince the gullible buyer that it is possible to load up Google Wallet with money or with the numbers of funding accounts but prevent final transfer of the money to the seller until after they test drive the car. They will insist that the account must be funded before the car is sent as a sign of good faith. Then they will use one of several variations of schemes to immediately transfer the money to the seller. The buyer will never see a car. There is no car.

Apparently, in this case, the seller is going to set up the account. So the seller will know the password and immediately transfer any money he can get to his account.

So the scam relies upon the buyer not understanding how Google Wallet works, and who assumes that the account set up by the seller is an escrow-type account with an authorization step that can be controlled by the buyer, but in reality, there is no such step? So when the buyer doesn’t get the car and checks to see where his money is, thinking it is being held like PayPal does, it’s already gone and the irreversible transaction completed?

I’m just trying to clarify stuff. Never having used Google Wallet, it’s not obvious to me.

As I understand Google Wallet (not having used it myself), you associate a credit or debit card with the Google Wallet account and the payments ultimately are applied to the credit/debit card. So giving a stranger on the internet access to your Google Wallet account would presumably let them access your credit/debit card as well.

(bolding mine)

I disagree with your description of the site, as being ‘nonsense’. :dubious:
The members of the site actively engage scammers and take up their time. Time that they would otherwise be spending, trying to scam someone else.
The members have also contributed to investigations that resulted in the arrest and successful prosecution of scammers.

(bolding mine)

See the above. :wink:

What if the perps are located in a foreign and third world country? If that is the case (and it is highly likely - try doing an IP search on the emails) then the Internet Crime Complaint Center won’t do squat.

That’s where scambaiting comes in. They waste the scammer’s time, apply typically mild punishment and occasionally lure the scammers into the hands law enforcement. They also know these scams backwards and forwards. So if you have a couple of hours to invest over a few weeks, you might post the complaint to or perhaps the latter has a larger user base and a slightly less anarchic stance.

That said, a few of the (typically Russian) scammers can be saavy to that sort of thing, which makes process somewhat more challenging. At any rate 419eater is the go-to site for learning about scams. :: Index

Thanks for the info on 419eaters, Measure for Measure. :cool:

Thanks for the clarification. I read some of the Scambaiters website, and it is exactly how you describe. Except I didn’t get as far as where they work with law enforcement to nab these guys. It looked more like a site to waste the scammers time. Not a bad thing to do, but I was looking for something to do something more “official”. If this site does that, great.