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Northeast Ohio consumers lose thousands to fake online auto listings

Posted at 10:36 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 23:16:41-04

CLEVELAND — Latrice Goodwin and her husband Antwon thought that they had found the car of their dreams, in what appeared to be an online eBay Motors listing. Instead they were conned out of $2,000.

Goodwin said she found the listing for a 2011 Honda Accord through the smartphone app OfferUp.

The car was listed for an extremely low sale price of $1,000 by a woman claiming to be in the Army, who allegedly lost her husband three months ago.

Goodwin said the seller instructed her to pay for the Honda using eBay gift cards, sending her the gift card code numbers via email.

"She was selling her car because she was already at the base, and was about to get ready to get shipped out within the next few days," Goodwin explained.

Goodwin said a day after she gave the seller the $1,000, the seller then added an unexpected fee.

"Another email turned around and hit me back up saying that you now need another $1,000 for a shipping fee," Goodwin said. "I paid the shipping fee, but then I was told that there was now a charge for state taxes, but that's when I finally realized I had been scammed."

Goodwin said she contacted eBay about the fake listing but was told they could not help her get her money back.

"I was literally in tears," Goodwin said. "I was in my kitchen talking to her, and I was just crying through the whole thing."

Cleveland Better Business Bureau President Sue McConnell said consumers should be aware if a seller asks to be paid with gift cards, that's a "red flag."

"Absolutely, there are a lot of fake cars listed online, and they're all in excellent condition and they cost you next to nothing," McConnell said. "The real clue that this wasn't for real is that the payment method had to be by gift cards."

McConnell said it's highly important consumers run checks on a sellers contact information before they issue any money.

"And the email address the seller is using, you can Google that online and see if other people are reporting that they got scammed by the same person using the same email," McConnell said.

Meanwhile Goodwin, who said she's now lost her family's Florida vacation money, issued a consumer warning if you must buy a vehicle online.

"Really be careful, really look into all these details on these things first, before you really just go buying cars," Goodwin said.