By November 8, 2005

Scam scam scammity scalamity

I’m trying to sell my 2004 Element. Thanks to Alexa, I inherited her 1995 Mitsubishi Montero, and it’s paid for. Cylon is a bargain in comparison to my E, and divesting myself of a monthly payment seems like a dream come true.

I listed my Element on as well as the Richmond area I figured that the Element is a bit unusual for the Richmond area, being: a) not an American made car with a sticker of Calvin pissing on a stock car number and b) being a square, odd-shaped, and so ugly you may love it type of vehicle. I expected a low level of interest. What I didn’t expect was a high level of interest from internet scammers.

Within two hours of listing my car on I got an email from a “broker,” asking me to reply to his note so we could discuss the car. I responded, and received the old wire-transfer-scam trick. Here’s the premise: someone in the ether wants to buy your car. They offer to send a cashier’s check OVER your asking price, and then once the money is deposited they want you to wire transfer them the difference. Most people are honest, and wire the money back as soon as they deposit the check. The check, however, is counterfeit, and the seller’s bank bounces the check and holds the seller responsible for the money. This is obviously a huge disaster for the seller.

So, let’s say my Element is going for $20,000. The scammer offers $25,000 via the fake cashier’s check. I accept the offer, get the cashier’s check in the mail, and deposit it in my bank. I wire transfer the $5000 difference back to the scammer. A few days later the bank bounces the fake cashier’s check and removes the $25,000 from my account. I am now $5000 in the hole, and the scammer is $5000 richer.

I reported the email thread as phishing to Gmail and deleted the message. I figured that one scam attempt was par for the course these days. I have almost 1000 spam messages autofiltered by Gmail in this month alone.

Since the original scam attempt I’ve received three more, all from It’s sad, but I’ve received more genuine interest from the very small Richmond community than the much more massive site.

I haven’t even gotten to the fun part of selling my car — when someone wants to meet me somewhere and then I have to brave their horrible driving skills for 20 minutes while they attempt to kamikaze into oncoming traffic.

Shit like this makes me think about eating the difference between trade-in and private party retail sale prices and turn my car over to Carmax.

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