Recognizing automotive scams

Automotive shoppers should exercise due diligence before engaging in transactions to purchase vehicles advertised online. In particular, shoppers should be cautious of the following situations:

  • Sellers who claim that a buyer protection program offered by a major Internet company covers an auto transaction conducted outside that company's site
  • Sellers who list their vehicle across multiple platforms or move the transaction from one platform to another (for example, from Craigslist to CarGurus)
  • Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and request payments via wire transfers, money transfer services, or pre-paid cards
  • Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to have a third party physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase
  • Transactions in which 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 advertised at well below their market value. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is

Criminals may appear to be operating from a call center or offer a live-chat feature in e-mail correspondence and electronic invoices. As live-chat assistants, the criminals answer victims' questions and assure them the deals are safe, claiming that safeguards are in place to reimburse buyers for any loss. The criminals falsely assert that their sales are protected by liability insurance coverage up to $50,000.

The FBI today is warning the public that online vehicle shoppers are being victimized by fraudulent vehicle sales and false claims of vehicle protection programs. In fraudulent vehicle sales, criminals attempt to sell vehicles they do not own. They create an attractive deal by advertising vehicles for sale at prices below book value. Often the sellers suggest they need to sell the vehicle because they are moving for work, selling on the behalf of a relative, or selling due to military deployments.

The CarGurus Secure Transaction is not applicable to transactions that originate in whole or in part outside of CarGurus.  Be wary of any seller suggesting a vehicle is covered by CarGurus Purchase Protection Program if correspondence has occurred outside of the CarGurus platform or the transaction does not involve initiating or agreeing to participate in the secure checkout from within your CarGurus account. 

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

If you suspect that a CarGurus post may be connected to a scam, please report the listing by clicking on the "Report Fraud" button that appears beneath the image. You can also send us details by reaching out via the contact options here.

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