Brazen car thieves have concocted a new scam which targets vehicles for sale on popular classifieds website Craigslist, it was reported over the weekend. The organized scam targets people who are selling used cars on Craigslist and has hit over 100 people, according to reports from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The scam sees sellers given bank checks for the purchase that appear to be legitimate, but after the seller has signed over the title and given up the car, they discover that the check is a fake.
There have been nearly 100 such scam sales across the Midwest, with mostly in the Chicago area.
Many of the victims are left having to continue paying their car loan even though the car is gone, due to living in states where they have title to the car even though they still owe money on a car loan.
"These scams are well organized and have all the appearances of being legitimate," said NICB CEO Joe Wehrle. "But in the end, the criminal gets the car and the sellers or their financial institutions are left on the hook for thousands of dollars still owed on the car."
In an interesting twist, the scam has seen law enforcement in Kentucky and Illinois recover vehicles stolen in those states recovered after they been offered for sale again on Craigslist.
The NICB advises a simple solution: never sign over a title until you have the money in hand.
"Avoid accepting any kind of check, but if you do, take the time to make sure any alleged bank or cashier's check has actually cleared and you have the cash in hand," it said.