What happens in this email only scam

I put my car up for sale on auto trader. Soon after, I get a text message on my phone – “ is ur vehicle still up for sale?email me at somename@hotmail.com”.

This has happened before too, from a different mailing address though, when I posted my ad on kijiji.ca.

What scam will I be stepping into if I were to reply to the message? What stupidity does this person exepects me to do and how does he plan to scam me?

Amongst others, the autotrader website also mentions this as a scam when the person contacting you insists only on corresponence thro email, but it does not say anything further on how the scam works.

Was your phone number in that autotrader ad? If so, isn’t there a decent chance that it is NOT spam? Maybe the potential buyer simply prefers email or texting over phone calls.

If it’s a scam, it will either be overpayment with a fake money order (they ask you to send the balance back - their original payment bounces; yours does not), or just some scam to get the car off you without paying.

There’s not much danger in simply exchanging emails, is there? Nowadays, most email readers warn you about embeds and they can’t make you click on links to download files.

Yes, my phone number is in the ad, but so is my email address. If it is only email then wouldn’t he have used his own email address.

If a person in interested in buying the car, the first thing to do would be ask to see the vehicle.

Also, the funny things is that when I call back on the number from where the message was sent, there is no response.

To what Mangetout said, if he wants to make a rogue deal wouldn’t he have made an offer rightaway?

It is not that. I am not gullible enough to get scammed. I was just wondering the pattern this exchange would follow if I did send am email.

What strategy would he try and play out?

There are probably a half a dozen common ones, and many more less common. The basic idea is that the scammer would end up sending you something that appears to be a real check for too much money and you end up sending part of it back. Or gets your account information in order to deposit the money directly.

Just for the fun of it, I will send an email and see what happens.

Likely it’s an automated bot that scans autotrader for phone numbers in the ad and sends the text. It may not be programmed to search for emails (are email often listed in autotrader ads?) It’s doubtful that an actual person sent the text.

If you respond, it will go to an actual person who will likely try to scam you in some way. Most likely they will offer to send a cashier’s check for more than the amount and ask you to cash it and send them the extra.

ETA: They may have also sent you an email, but it could have been blocked by your spam filters correctly identifying it as spam.

Might be one of the 3rd party shipping scams. The supposed buyer wants to refer you to the shipping company that will be picking up the car after he buys it. You are very suspicious of the money transaction for the car, because that is a lot of money. But people tend to be less wary of a 3rd party, like a shipping company.

So you are working out the actual purchase of the car, the $20,000 or whatever the price is and making damn sure you are not going to get scammed, because you are not stupid, by golly! Meanwhile you are also dealing with the shipper who may want a small deposit of $200 before he picks up the car. No big deal, right?

Later the buyer backs out of the deal for whatever reason and the shipper has your $200. The scam was never about the car, they were never interested in scamming you out of the big ticket item, the scam was about the small amount of money to the shipper, the scam buyer and the shipper are the same team.

While you are protecting your big ticket item and determined not to be taken advantage of, they are picking your pocket for small bills.

This type of scam can happen to any business selling anything. I worked at a window glass company and the owner almost fell for this before I stopped him. I showed him this article or a similar one.

This appears most likely especially when I observe the timing. I posted the ad at around 8:30PM and it went live at around 9:30PM.

The text message came in at around 1:00AM. How many people are likely to be scanning auto trader for ads at that unearthly hour? And from those who in fact are doing that for some reason, why would they not wait until morning to send the message?

I replied to the email and got this from him -

Quote -

" Thanks for you reply, i will need you to get back to me with your final price for the vehicle and also tell me the present condition because am willing to buy.

Thanks. "

I have confirmed the price.

Waiting for the bait…

ETA - This guy seems to be willing to buy my car without even wanting to look at it!! He trusts me completely.

Two thoughts…

One is that he’s going to send you a (forged) check and ask you to forward some of the money to the “shipping agent” who is going to come pick up the car, the friend that he “owes” money too, or someone else. I.e. the standard overpayment scam.

Two is that he’s going to need you to visit this website to perform the background check for your honesty - it’s not a legit background check company, they really want you to go and enter your name, address, previous address, DOB, SSN, mother’s maiden name, then they’ll go apply for some credit cards and go on a spending spree.

What reason would they give that they shouldn’t get their $200 from the person who is “buying” the car? That would be my first response even if I was sure I wasn’t being scammed.


I doubt you will enjoy the experience.

Ok…this guy is moving fast. This is what he has written -

"Thanks so much for your warm reply. My Name is (name deleted) am from United State of American am buying this for my personal use.I would appreciate if you email me with more pictures (if available) too,.i will not be able to come over there for inspection,am a very busy type as i work long hours everyday,but if you can assure me that it is in good condition as you said in your last email i will be happy.so i will be paying you with my PayPal account or Bank wire Transfer because its safe and very secure way to make payment . If my mode of payment is accepted just send me your PayPal email address or Bank detail, so i can pay in right away. Make sure you get back to me so that i can make the payment. I have a private courier agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been made, so no shipping included. I await your reply asap

NOTE: I will be contacting a Shipping Company will be responsible for signing all necessary document and changing of ownership including the pick up…
awaiting to hear back from you soon
Thank You"

So now, if I send him the pictures, and my bank details, he says he will send me the payment.
How does he expect this to work? Suppose I do give him my bank details, does he think I will let his “private courier agent” without waiting for the said payment to be cleared by the bank?
I can see how this works. He will deposit a cheque in my account which will show up in my bank balance, but that cheque bounce and never get cleared.
Ok…what should be my reply to keep it going? People like these need to be taught a lesson.

Also wonder where this person is located. It has to be somewhere in continental North America for his “agent” to come and pick up my car.

I think this thread is now more suitable to IMHO or MPSIMS. Moderators, please move as appropriate.

Why? Is it dangerous?

I hope you didn’t give them your real email address. You should have created a throw-away.

Two ways you could go with this:

  1. Find some pictures of a rare exotic car on the internet. Send him a message that you want $200 for it.

  2. Find some pictures of a rusted-out junker. Send him a message that you want $20,000 for it.

Tell him they are in excellent condition. Ask if the price is satisfactory before you send details. And, yes, I know the car won’t match what was in your ad, but it would be interesting to know if he even read your ad.
Oh, and I doubt that there will actually be an agent coming to your house to pick up the car. They are just trying to get your bank account numbers. Next step will be to tell him that you will accept payment via Western Union and he may deduct the WU fee from the amount he is sending you.