Not going to name names, but a really unfortunate thing happened to someone I care deeply for and as it's something that could happen to ANYONE, I thought I'd pass it along, for warning to all. My friend was in the market for a new car. She looked locally for several weeks and found nothing. She looked further from home, but as she was looking for something specific she still didn't find what she wanted. Then in a major Seattle newspaper classified she found an ad selling exaclty what she wanted mentioned there was more info on the car at Yahoo Cars. So she turned to Yahoo Cars, which is a completely legitimate, and trustworthy place to find cars. What happened though is she fell victim to a scam.
She found the car, engaged in emails back and forth with the owner. He said he lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, but the car was in NY, USA. She bought the Carfax report for $24, checked all the details to make sure it was all legit and legal. To all our eyes, (we were all witness to her checking as many details as possible), this was a legit transaction. Everything seemed good. In retrospect, the red flag came when he said "if you buy it today, I'll take $9,600 for it" (His original ad was for $14,900.) She agreed, then received the email from Yahoo Cars telling her the steps to take next. She only needed to pay a deposit of $3,600 via Western Union, sent to the Yahoo agent in Copenhagen. The owner would then arrange shipping of the car (remember it's in NY and we are in Washington state) and send the tracking the number.
She had 15 days to inspect and accept the car once she got it, if there was any reason it wasn't acceptable, the seller had to arrange, and pay for, shipping back. It seemed as if there was no way she could get screwed. She didn't have to pay the remainder until she received, and accepted, the car. So she wired the $3,600 (+$200 Western Union fees to send the money) to the agent. She received her shipping tracking number, which she even checked, and it was an actual company.
Sunday she gets another email from "Yahoo" saying she needed to send an additional $3,000. This raised a red flag. She logged on to Yahoo Cars and found...post after post about the scam/fraud, originating in Copenhagen, with a car in the USA that will be shipped...and never is...She immediatley called Western Union, the agent she talked to this time had heard of the Copenhagen car scam, but unfortunatley, the money had already been picked up and, therefore, was gone. The WHOLE THING was fake, the emails from Yahoo were actually sent by the scammer, made to look like the real thing. And apparently the scammer does this so much that he gets her confused with other people he is ripping off because today she gets another email saying "it's not me, but Yahoo really says you need to get that $3,000 to their "agent" so I can get the car shipped from Arizona..." HELLO? Arizona?? I thought it was in NY? And I thought you already shipped it?
Everything, of course is made up, so there seems little hope of catching the ass, or group of asses, who do this.
Yahoo, when contacted, said they "NEVER SUGGEST PAYMENT VIA WESTERN UNION, as it is basically untraceable, once it's picked up." I imagine this would go for any other online place where you need to send money and then be sent goods. Even when I bought my puppy, the website specifically listed Western Union as not being the way to send payment, but to use paypal or their "puppy escrow" (lol).
So, please be extra aware of this! And send out a little good thought to my friend who is beating herself up and feeling "pretty stupid" when, really, she isn't. I would say, not to trust anything that comes TO YOU, rather, go to the site, where you have to log in securely, before you feel the information is accurate (although I imagine that can be scammed too if someone really wanted to.)
Scammers SUCK and I can't think of enough bad things that should happen to them.