3 On Your Side

Car purchase turns out to be clever scam

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"I'm sorry," Stephanie Lujano told 3 On Your Side as she wiped tears from her face.  "It just sucks." (Source: 3TV) "I'm sorry," Stephanie Lujano told 3 On Your Side as she wiped tears from her face.  "It just sucks." (Source: 3TV)
Lujano found the ad on a legit website, but the ad was a scam. (Source: 3TV) Lujano found the ad on a legit website, but the ad was a scam. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Stephanie Lujano is still trying to comprehend how she got scammed out of $3,000.

"I'm sorry," she told 3 On Your Side as she wiped tears from her face. "It just sucks."

It all started, she says, when she and her husband decided to buy a second family car. The one they currently have is in great shape, but they thought having a second car, if they paid for it in full, would be helpful. 

Lujano used her smartphone to surf the Internet and came across a legitimate website that sold cars.

On that site, she found a 2007 Nissan Murano for sale for only $3,000.

She emailed the seller that she was interested, and she got a reply.  

"That's when she (the seller) told me she got it in a divorce and didn't need it anymore, so she was just trying to get rid of it," Lujano explained. "So, I was like perfect. Under my budget. It's what we need. So, why not?"

To get the process going, the seller claimed to be using eBay, a trusted and well-known e-commerce website.

The seller convinced Lujano that both of them would be protected from possible scammers by using eBay.

Lujano said she even received emails from an eBay representative saying they would be handling the transaction, and at one point, even indicated the car would be inspected.    

With that said, Lujano says she felt at ease.

To get that great deal on that car, the seller told Lujano to buy $3,000 in eBay cards. That's exactly what she did. She went to a Walgreens and bought six $500 cards, a total of $3,000.

Lujano was instructed to scratch off the back bar code to reveal the numbers underneath and then share those numbers with the eBay representative.

Lujano did, but doing that was as good as handing over cash, and when the car was never delivered, she realized she had been ripped off.

There was no Nissan Murano for sale and eBay was never involved at all.

In fact, eBay clearly warns consumers about the scam on their website saying, "Fraudsters often send spoof emails that appear to be from eBay, but are not."

It's a hard lesson for Lujano and her family. They can't afford to lose money, much less $3,000.

She wonders, how someone could do this.  

"Why? I don't understand why," she said. "I mean, I did nothing to this person. I'm just trying to support my family. I just don't know why. And I want to know why. What did I do to this person that I deserve this?"

3 On Your Side is in contact with eBay to see if there is any recourse for Lujano. The eBay Motor Security Center posted an alert about Internet vehicle scams on Craigslist and other sites. It offers "buying tips and warning signs that all customers should keep in mind when considering any vehicle purchase."

In the meantime, 3 On Your Side suggests that consumers always meet face to face with the seller of a vehicle.

If you're asked to make the purchase any other way, be cautious.  For example, if the seller requests that you wire money or that you pay by using loaded cards like Lujano did, then it's a scam.

3 On Your Side will air an update if needed.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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