FBI finally zoning in on popular Craigslist car scam

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PHOENIX - There's a popular scam 3 On Your Side has reported on several times and now, it looks as though the FBI is finally getting involved by issuing an alert to consumers.

According to the alert, scammers advertise used cars on popular websites like Craigslist and price them well below the appraised value.

The con-men claim the price is so low because they're being transferred for work or deployed in the military.

That's also why they say they can't meet potential buyers in person.

Instead, they pressure consumers into wiring money using Western Union or MoneyGram.

To make the scam appear more legitimate, the crooks say the sale is safe because you're using E-Bay Motors Vehicle Protection Plan.

But according to E-Bay, it “covers only certain vehicle transactions that are completed on e-bay.com. If a craigslist seller "promises" you E-Bay protection programs, walk away. It is fraudulent.”

In a new twist, FBI cyber agent Michael McAndrews says criminals will use live web-chat to answer buyers’ questions, again, to assure consumers that the deal is safe.

“If the seller can create that sense of confidence by actually having that dialogue and reassuring the purchaser that the transactions legitimate, often times, people who wouldn't fall prey to a scam are believing the seller,” McAndrews said.

Some warning signs to watch for:

Sellers trying to move the deal from one website to another.

Transactions where the seller and vehicle are in different locations.

Where the vehicles are advertised at a price well below market value.

Another red flag – having to wire money.

If you have witnessed this behavior or fallen victim to this type of scam, the FBI recommends consumers file a complaint with the IC3 at www.IC3.gov.