Better Business Bureau: Buying a car through eBay can be risky

June 20, 2013 

The car was a dream - single owner, 83K miles, automatic transmission, 16V engine 2002 Toyota Camry.

The classified stated the reason for selling the vehicle was "my husband died a month ago from a heart attack."

Jimmy Capell, of Boise, responded to the classified. He says he'd been searching for a used replacement car, and a 12-year-old car with low mileage sounded like a good deal.

Email exchanges were made, and a price of $1,800 was settled upon.

"I started questioning the entire deal when she wrote back saying she wanted to use eBay services," Capell says.

Her email read: 'I want to use eBay services for the safety of both of us so if you're interested in purchasing the car just email me with your full name, address including the ZIP code and phone number, so I can notify eBay that you are selected as my possible buyer and they will contact you to explain the entire procedure.'

Capell says he'd never heard of such a deal. That's when he contacted Better Business Bureau.

Every day thousands of transactions are made through eBay, an Internet-based sales site, where seller and buyer are hooked up. The company provides a sense of security for transactions acting as a third-party conveyor.

The suggestion that Capell and Ms. Kalyn Swain complete the sale using eBay was enticing. It's to protect against fraud - such as an inaccurate description, title problems, or if the buyer doesn't receive the car.

EBay's website reads: "The eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) program provides protection against losses associated with some types of fraud. You're automatically enrolled in the program at no charge when you buy an eligible vehicle on the eBay Motors site."

Most people assume the agreement goes across the board that you can buy into the eBay Motor Vehicle Protection Program. You can't.

"Only purchases made on the eBay site and visible in the 'Won' section of your My eBay section are covered," it states.

The program is so misunderstood that IC3, the FBI's Internet crime unit, issued a statement, and warned people about being scammed into believing they are protected.

FBI says you may be entering a scam, if:

• Sellers want to move the transaction from one platform to another (such as, Craigslist to eBay Motors).

• Sellers claim a buyer protection program offered by a major Internet company covers an auto transaction conducted outside that company's site.

• Sellers push for speedy completion of the transaction and ask payments via quick wire transfer payment systems - Western Union, MoneyGram, GreenDot.

• Sellers refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the sale.

• Transactions where the seller and vehicle are in different locations. Criminals often claim to have been transferred for work reasons, deployed by the military, or moved because of a family circumstance, and could not take the vehicle with them.

• Vehicles are advertised at well below market value.

After getting all this information, Capell says he's reconsidered the dream 2002 Toyota Camry, and instead of looking online for a vehicle, he may stay closer to home.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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