By Robb Hicken/ chief storyteller
When 19-year-old Niki from Parma began to relate how she’d lost her perfect car, her voice quivered.
Expecting her first child, she wondered what would happen next.
The craigslist classified ad was posted by Sr. Medic Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Morgan, who lives in Boise but has been stationed in Nevada for training. The address he provided Niki was 685 E. Plumb Lane, Reno, NV 85902 – the Nevada Army National Guard recruiting station. BBB calls to the recruiting station were forwarded to headquarters in Carson City, Nev., but were not returned.
Niki says Morgan didn’t want to talk by telephone because the training hours were at such odd hours, and he was stationed in the desert.
“We did all the negotiations by email,” she says.
Morgan alleged the car, a Chevrolet LT 2002 was parked in the backyard of his home. He said his unit was soon going to ship out to Afghanistan and he didn’t want to leave the car sitting in the yard.
When pressed to check the auto, Morgan emailed photos to the Parma, Idaho, couple, but said he was not able to show it to them.
Niki says the price, $2,000 was about right. They were still dubious about the transaction, but when Morgan said he would sell it through eBay, using an eBay Motors Agent, it eased their concerns.
Catlet Turnen, 1403 Slokum St., Dallas, Texas 75207, is the fictitious eBay Motors Agent who was to receive the money, and present the keys and the car to the couple.
“We took a copy of the MoneyGram we sent to Mr. Turnen to the bank and they faxed it over to the army guy (Sgt. Morgan), to show the transaction was complete,” she says.
The fax number Sgt. Morgan provided for the receipt was ( 331) 826-3512. Area code 331 is assigned to part of Chicago and Illinois.
They waited the day of the delivery, but no one came.
“Now, what are we going do,” she asks between sniffles and tears. “I had to borrow the money from aunt, and we don’t even have a car to get to our jobs.”
BBB offers these tips on electronic classified sites:
- Try to deal with local buyers and sellers.
- Never wire funds.
- Use caution when using an escrow service or third-party exchange – make sure it’s reputable by checking them out at www.bbb.org.
“If a Craigslist seller “promises” you eBay protection programs, walk away,” the site states. “It is fraudulent. Only cars bought and sold on eBayMotors.com can legitimately offer up to $50,000 in vehicle protection.”
- Sellers who claim that eBay’s Vehicle Purchase Protection covers an auto transaction conducted outside the eBay site.
- Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and ask payments via quick wire transfer payment systems.
- Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before you buy it.
- 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 advertised at well below their market value. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.