One of my friends brought this story to my attention when he checked out Craigslist to purchase a car.

The First e-mail

From: “”
First of all I want to thank you for your interest for my 2003 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab SR5,automatic transmission,silver.

Only 89,500 miles,beautiful condition in and out. Paint shines ,zero dings/dents,no accident.

Non-smoker,always garaged and covered.

It comes with all the documents needed for registration and clear title.

I sell it at this price($2,740.00 ) because I have been divorced recently and i don’t have driver license.

Now the truck is in my property and as a woman i don’t need it. This truck is in excellent working conditions, no scratches, flaws or any kind of damage, slightly used in 100% working and looking conditions and comes with a clear title.

From the beginning you have to know that for the payment I request only secure pay, I prefer the payment to be done using eBay services.

We will use a safe payment method because I am affiliated at eBay and I have a purchase protection account for $20,000.00

The final price that I want for this truck is $2,740.00 including shipping and handling.
If you are interested in buying it please provide me your full name and address so I can initiate the deal through eBay.

I will wait your answer very soon.
Emma Jefferson
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Editor’s note: It’s rather obvious this person doesn’t speak English as a first language according to their writing style. Red flag? Perhaps. Also, it’s my experience that when people have stories about why they’re getting rid of something in such good condition at a dirt-cheap price, they’re usually full of shit.

Author’s note: We asked to test drive the vehicle and for the VIN to run CARFAX.

The Second e-mail

From: “”

Author’s note: (notice, different email address)

I’m sorry to disappoint you but the car is already at the shipping company in Orlando, Florida sealed and ready for the shipping.

I have a contract with eBay so this deal must go through them.

I’m very busy with my job and I’m getting off the town so I can’t meet in person with you so this is the reason why I chose to sell my car over the internet.

According with the eBay you have 5 days from the time you receive the car to inspect it and decide if you want to keep it or not.

If you want to buy it please email me your full name and address for shipping so I can initiate the transaction through eBay.

After that they will contact you for all necessary information about this transaction
(terms,buyer protection,payment instructions,invoice,etc.)
Thank you
VIN Number: 5TEHN72NX3Z166407
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Editor’s note: Again, the broken English. And “according with the eBay” strikes me as odd.

Author’s note: We ran CARFAX and the vehicle does indeed exist.
We asked for the title and registration and for her eBay username.

The Third e-mail

From: “”
Glad we can do business. I’ll start the registration process with Ebay and you will receive the information you need from them shortly, via email.
VIN Number: 5TEHN72NX3Z166407

The Invoice

The Listing

Price and Shipping Info

The Fourth e-mail

Author’s note: Received this email from “”, reply-to “”

Case ID: 65B4T137L3W13
Dear Customer,
Please tell me if you have received the invoice for payment. Once we receive the fax from you that will include the payment details as explained above, we will instruct the seller to start the shipping process. We will hold the payment until you send us your confirmation that you are satisfied with the product you received. As soon as we receive your confirmation we will release the payment to the seller. You will receive further details regarding the shipping process (courier information, tracking method, expected delivery date) after the payment confirmation.

*NOTE It may occur that your e-mail doesn’t support HTML language and that is why you haven’t received the invoice from us. Please check your bulk/junk/spam/ messages, the invoice may have ended there because of the ever increasing filters of the e-mails nowdays.
Michael Kennell
eBay Safe Harbor
Customer Specialist

The Red Flags

Obviously, the broken English (at least for me) was a huge red flag. The second was the sob story regarding why the truck was selling for so cheap.

Secondly, the seller claimed the truck was on her property, but stated later that it was moved to a warehouse.

The final red flag was that payment was required through Western Union.

For the invoice and final e-mail, the messages were forwarded to eBay confirmed that both e-mails were in fact fraudulent.

Lessons Learned

Be careful. If you receive any official correspondence, be sure to check the “from” and “reply-to” headers in your email.

If you are unsure of the e-mail, send the e-mail to the business’s anti-fraud division. In eBay’s case, it is