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Too Good to be True? Buyer Beware!

When it comes to buying or selling a vehicle consumers have many options and avenues to explore and most use the internet at some point to narrow their options. Many predatory buyers and sellers are looking for the right opportunity to to spring their scams on unsuspecting consumers. There are many scam artists on AutoTrader, Kijiji and other sites that put many customers and dealers at risk. Some of the following are examples of online scams so please be very careful when shopping online.

The following was released to Ontario Automotive Dealers from OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) on December 5, 2012 and proves just how easy it is to get caught up in "too good to be true" pricing even for dealers.


The Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission (UMVPC) is warning Canadian online car buyers and dealers to be aware of a possible Oklahoma-based scam. UMVPC alleges Ambient Auto Center of Oklahoma City advertises on the Canadian sites of Autotrader, Wheels, E-bay, Craigslist, Kijiji and Autocatch; their ads offer high-end late model vehicles at prices that may be 'too good to be true'. UMVPC Investigator John Cobb states, "we have received numerous inquiries about this operation including from Canadian dealers."

According to Cobb, Ambient's website became active in October however "they are not a licensed dealer. From what we have seen thus far, all their advertising is targeting Canadians." A review of Ambient Auto Center's website finds claims of "hundreds of used exotic vehicles" for sale and "award-winning service", and they offer to "ship world wide" (sic). However, according to Cobb, "this dealer has no physical presence - the advertised address for this supposed extensive dealer operation is in fact an empty corn field next to a warehouse owned by the State of Oklahoma. We are making this information public to stop this scam from finding a victim".

In one instance Cobb heard from a Canadian dealer who was going to buy a vehicle from Ambient on behalf of one of the dealer's customers. "Fortunately the dealer thought the deal was too good and contacted us before sending money". OMVIC warns dealers (and consumers) not to get sucked in by an 'amazing deal'. If something is priced below market value, it should usually be seen as a warning, not an opportunity.


Common Scams for Sellers: SMS/Text fraud? I received an SMS message asking for PayPal details

At Kijiji, your security is a key priority. We monitor ads and replies, act on tips from our community of site users, to ensure that only legitimate activity is taking place and that bad people are denied access to Kijiji. This is driving fraudsters to be ever more creative and find new ways to connect with Kijiji users. Recently, some fraudsters have started contacting Kijiji users via their mobile phone number.

Text messages will look and sound similar to below examples:

"Hell, I saw your listing on Kijiji and can you let me know if still on sale...blahblah@live.com"


"Hello, I saw your ad. on Kijiji. I'm ready to offer you 20,000CAD for the vehicle. For quick response, email me at: blahblah2@gmail.com Smith"

Moreover, there will be a name in title or numbers that are from overseas, even local looking with +614 types and are sent via online sms service providers like "SMS craze" etc.

These fraudsters are trying to trick you by sending fake sms messages asking to be contacted via email (this should instantly ring alarm bells in your head) because, why would anyone want to be emailed if they're contacting you through your phone?

The reason;

1. they want to get you communicating over email, which will then allow them to open up their word document and google translator to copy and paste their prepared scripts.

2. within the communication they will then give you a story, that they can't call you because they are working on an oil rig, or they are presently traveling the world and as such can only correspond via sms text and email…you get the idea! They'll feed you any excuse NOT to meet up with you, because they're actually on the other side of the world in an internet cafe (that's why unfortunately some of our users receive SMS messages in the middle of the night)

Next steps in this interesting tale of events are;

1. they'll offer you several hundred even thousands of dollars more than you've asked for, because they apparently love, actually really want your; car, furniture, horse, diamond ring etc for their sister, cousin, brother somewhere around the world and want to outbid everyone else

2. even though they're very interested in what you're selling, they can't inspect it and would rather have their shipping agent or courier pick it up, but of course there is a catch!

3. They'll ask if you have a PayPal account and if not they'll want you to create one. Once you've done that or even if you haven't, they'll advise that there's been a problem and send you a story something like this:

4. "I was just about to make the payment when I had this little problem with the picking up,I got an email from my agent..I thought I included that in my previous email. But he said he won't come and pick up the vehicle unless I pay him the agent commission fee first in order to be able to schedule a pick up time, and my pick up agent head quarters is in the United Kingdom and all commission payments made for pick up, from anywhere in the world is sent to their head quarters in the United Kingdom and the only form of payments they accept is western union money transfer and I tried to pay online but I will need a credit card which i didn't bring along, and there is no post office (there is usually a western union section in most post offices) or any western union agent offshore! So I have to ask you to help me with the pick up fees, I will include the $700 they charged to pick it up and take it my home(1st class treatment), to the payments I will send through paypal, after I have made the payments, I will need you to help me send the $700 to my pick up agent through western union money transfer, the western union money transfer can be made at a post office near to you,there is always a western union agent in most post offices or online at https://www.westernunion..com I will be making the payments shortly and will email you as soon as it has been done.."

5. Wow, what a great story! Then of course they'll follow up with a genuine looking PayPal receipt that shows the "extra amount" for you to forward on to the "UK head quarters"; this is of course to trick you in to believing that they've deposited cash into your account and want you to wire the shipping/agent fee via western union/moneygram. On occasions they've been known to even threaten you by claiming that, they'll get the federal police and PayPal legal involved if you don't go ahead with the deal...

6. but, we all know that no such deposit has been made in to your PayPal account - how do you check this? Simple, login to your PayPal account via the official PayPal website!

7. Such requests to pay shipping agents and threats are fake and harmless, so simply ignore them!

Remember Kijiji always encourages anyone using the site to meet in person, face to face and we ask you never to send or wire money to someone that you don't know! We also want you to do your homework and take the right precautions by doing your own research i.e. start with Googling such requests and you'll find instances of such stories or simply, reach out to us if ever in doubt, then you should be able to deal with any questionable requests thrown your way.

What these fraudsters are simply trying to do is play out the classic "overpayment/shipping scam", purpose of this is to get their hands on your money for something you're trying to sell - ludicrous right? They want you to send money for something you're selling, it just doesn't make sense!!

However as a simple solution, what we advise all our users is to simply ignore such sms messages/emails and report it to us. If you are annoyed by such messages, please instead remove your contact details from your ad, "we know this is inconvenient with such a great service like Kijiji" but, this way you can control how you receive inquiries, and using the default email communication on Kijiji, you can ensure that you are dealing with a genuine person by asking the right questions and once you're comfortable, you could exchange these and organize a time and a place to meet up.

The moral of the story is do your due diligence and your interactions on the world wide web and on Kijiji will be a pleasant one!

We're sorry for such an inconvenience however, the best rule of thumb while using Kijiji is to meet up with the person you are communicating with, the good old fashioned way, face to face! If you have any questions or need clarification simply click that "contact us" button just below in the footer and we can help with any questions you might have.