Beware These eBay Motors Scams

eBay Motors has a lot of buyers and a lot of vehicles for sale. Its large reach connects sellers and buyers, but the platform doesn't do much to help them transact easily and safely.

Fraudsters thrive on eBay Motors, taking advantage of a lack of protections. Luckily, there’s a much safer way to buy and sell used cars.
We’ll show you a solution that makes private-party transactions safe and easy. Read on.

eBay Motors Scams Targeting Buyers

While eBay Motors has a lot of cars for sale by owner, it lacks basic safeguards, a fact that scammers love. Don't become their next victim!

Here are the five most common car-buying scams to look out for:

1. “Just needs” scam
2. Car cloning scam
3. Payment via gift card scam
4. Phone verification scam
5. Not providing the VIN scam
6. Fake vehicle listing scam
7. Purchase protection scam
8. Wire transfer scam
9. Third party scam
10. Escrow scam
Image highlighting DealNow by PrivateAuto

One: “Just Needs" Scam

The "just needs" scam is very common; it involves sellers advertising cars with minor issues that supposedly just require small, inexpensive repairs.

For example, "just needs a new alternator,” or “it just needs new brakes.” In reality, the stated problem is only the surface symptom of larger mechanical troubles.

This tactic hides major defects under the guise of quick fixes. You have to thoroughly inspect and test these cars rather than just making the stated repair. Or they avoid "just needs" cars altogether, as critical flaws are often being concealed.

So be wary of too-good-to-be-true "just needs" ads. A cheap alternator replacement can't fix deeper issues. Avoid potential headaches and buy fully vetted cars instead.

Two: Car Cloning Scam

Car cloning is when criminals use stolen vehicle identification numbers and fake paperwork to disguise a stolen or salvaged car as a legitimate vehicle.

The scammers take VINs from a similar make and model and make counterfeit titles, registrations, etc. This makes the car look like it has a clean history when it's actually a cloned car.

Here are things you need to watch for:

The VIN doesn't match the vehicle branding or description
Gaps or inconsistencies in the car's ownership history
Titles from many different states for the same VIN

Run the VIN through services like NMVTIS to uncover fraud before buying. They can spot cloned cars by cross-checking the VIN against title and inventory databases.

Three: Gift Card Scam

Got a seller asking for gift card payment? That's a common scam tactic. Gift cards provide an untraceable avenue for fraudsters to move funds

Once you share the gift card codes, your money is as good as gone. Scammers love to use this method for lemons, salvage title vehicles, or stolen cars.

Legit sellers will accept normal payment options that protect you, not gift cards.

Four: Phone Number "Verification" Scam

A seller insists they need to call or text you to "confirm" you're a real buyer before discussing a sale or showing a car. Once they have your number, they use it for:

1. Spam calls and texts
2. Identity theft
3. Sim swapping scams to access your other accounts

Sharing your phone number with strangers online is risky. Don't fall for "verification" excuses.

Protect your information avoid scams and invite sellers to transact through DealNow to access PrivateAuto’s secure messaging and instant, fee-free payments.

Five: Not Giving Out the VIN Scam

Sellers refusing VINs may be disguising a stolen or a salvage title as legitimate.
Scammers clone VINs from similar models to make counterfeit titles. This hides the real history and makes it look clean.

Run the VIN through NMVTIS first. It cross-checks the VIN against databases to uncover cloned cars, this extra steps can save you thousands of dollars.

Six: Fake Listings

Fake listings are the easiest way to scam a seller on eBay.

These fraudulent listings promise unbelievable deals to lure in eager car buyers. But they only intend to take payments, not sell anything.

Once you send money for the imaginary car, the bogus account disappears. You're left empty-handed.

Never send payment before inspecting the vehicle in person and having the seller sign a bill of sale. Only transact with credible, verified sellers—not imposters or fake profiles.

PrivateAuto facilitates safe purchases by:

Requiring sellers provide VINs to check vehicle history
Identifying real sellers through identity verification checks
Using legally binding contracts and paperwork signed electronically
Holding funds securely until inspection is complete

There is only one simple rule: only pay after you've met the seller and inspected the car. Use PrivateAuto to ensure you never become a victim of fraud.

Seven: Purchase Protection Scam

Watch out for shady sellers claiming you'll get buyer protections from eBay Motors. Scammers fake these relationships with convincing websites and contact info. But read the fine print—the "fraud protection plans" don't exist!

Eight: Wire Transfer Scam

Wire transfer scams involve sellers insisting you send payment through bank wire before they get the vehicle. This exposes your banking and credit card information to potential fraud.

Wired money can't be canceled or reversed if the car turns out to be misrepresented. Legitimate sellers will not require upfront wire transfers from strangers.
Image highlighting DealNow by PrivateAuto

Nine: Third-Party Scam

The third-party scam involves fraudsters falsely claiming to be affiliated with reputable car sales platforms like eBay Motors. They try to gain your trust by saying the third party will oversee the transaction. In reality, they have no relationship with it.

Scammers will create convincing fake emails, websites, and even a phone number to appear real. The goal is to convince you to send payment by making you feel secure about the supposed third-party protection.

Ten: Escrow Scam

Fraudsters exploit the perceived protections of escrow to con unsuspecting car buyers. Escrow scams rely on the perceived legitimacy of escrow companies to trick victims into sending money.

A fraudulent seller convinces a buyer to send money to a fake (usually nonexistent) escrow service. Scammers create convincing websites with logos and branding copied from real escrow companies.

The fraudsters then reach out to potential buyers and claim they will handle the transaction through their escrow service. Unaware that it is a sham site, the trusting buyer follows the "escrow" instructions and submits their payment to the fake company. But in reality, they have just paid the scammer directly, and the money is stolen.

If you're going to use an escrow service, make sure it's legitimate. Better yet, skip the expense and hassle of escrow with the self-serve protections of PrivateAuto Pay.

PrivateAuto Pay provides escrow-like safeguards for private-party used vehicle transactions. It’s instant, it’s highly secure, it works 24/7/365, and it has no transaction fees.

eBay Motor Scams Targeting Sellers

Sellers are also vulnerable to fraudulent activity on eBay Motors. Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting sellers.

Here are some common scams that sellers should be aware of and how to protect themselves:

1. Counterfeit payment scam
2. Fake PayPal scam
3. Overpayment scams
4. Phishing scams

One: Counterfeit Payment Scam

The counterfeit payment scam involves fraudsters using counterfeit money to pay for a car during an in-person transaction.

It’s better to not deal in cash payments with strangers. Instead, invite the buyer to DealNow and enjoy our smooth deal flow, privacy safeguards, and instant payment transfers.

Two: Fake PayPal Payment Scam

PayPal is a popular way of getting paid, but fake buyers have figured out how to fake a payment. They mimic PayPal confirmations to dupe sellers.

Real PayPal emails use your full name and don't ask for personal info. Always log in to verify payments directly. And consider skipping PayPal entirely for PrivateAuto Pay.

Three: Overpayment Scam

This trick starts with the buyer sending a cashier's check for more than the agreed-upon sale price. For example, you are selling a Toyota 4Runner for $40,000, and they give you a check for $45,000.

The scammer will plead with you to refund the $5,000 overage back to them right away, often claiming it was an innocent mistake. They may spin an elaborate story to convince you.

But a few days later, that cashier's check will bounce when the bank discovers it's a counterfeit check. Even though you initially deposited the full $45,000, the bank will pull all those funds back out of your account.

You'll owe the bank $45,000, while the scammer pockets the $5,000 cash you refunded them. Never accept a check for more than the final agreed sale amount. Insist that any overpayments get corrected on their end.

Four: Phishing Scams

A phishing scam starts with a supposed buyer contacting you about a listing. They request sensitive information such as the following:

Bank account or routing numbers
Credit card details
Copy of driver's license
Social security number

They make seemingly legitimate excuses about needing these details when in reality, they're stealing your data.

Trust your instinct—and use DealNow.

DealNow Crushes Vehicle Scams

PrivateAuto is the most user-friendly place to sell your car or buy a private-party used car.

But we understand why you might want to use eBay Motors: the platform has a lot more reach (we're still getting traction).

If you choose to buy or sell a car on eBay Motors, we want you to do so safely and conveniently. That's why we created DealNow.

DealNow lets you start a deal anywhere (such as on eBay Motors or Facebook Marketplace) and finish it with PrivateAuto

Here’s how it works:

1. Invite the other party to DealNow via a custom link.
2. Enjoy identity verification, in-app messaging, and a test drive scheduling feature (none of which require you to exchange contact info).
3. Meet for the test drive
4. Both parties go together through a step-by-step transaction process in which you each confirm relevant details right in the PrivateAuto mobile app. From mileage to the VIN to the condition of the vehicle, we help you both prevent any errors.
5. Both of you electronically sign an official bill of sale. The buyer gets confirmation that the seller has signed and that they are safe to pay for the car since the bill of sale is a legally binding document. Both of you retain a copy of the signed bill of sale stored in your PrivateAuto account for reference.
6. The buyer is prompted to initiate payment via our integrated banking gateway, PrivateAuto Pay.
7. The seller gets the money instantly in their PrivateAuto Pay account and confirms receipt of payment.
8. The seller signs over the car title and hands over the keys.

DealNow is so smooth, so safe, and so fast that you’ll never want to buy or sell a car without it.

Protect Yourself

Criminals continue to develop methods to trick prospective buyers and sellers. That’s why we created PrivateAuto.

PrivateAuto provides vehicle history reports with all premium listings and also has identity verification. These measures cut down significantly on fraudsters, but it always pays to be vigilant.

Don’t let anyone rush you into selling your car accepting a high purchase price or paying without verifying the details. If someone gives you a high-pressure "act now or lose out" ultimatum, it's best to walk away.

When buying a car, take your time—carefully inspect the car, verify the VIN, test drive carefully, and don’t pay until you're confident about going through with the transaction.

PrivateAuto lets you schedule test drives securely and make payments only when terms are met. With a little patience, you can find the right car without being rushed into a fraudulent deal.

eBay Motors FAQ

What payment methods does eBay Motors offer?

eBay Motors offers the following payment options for buyers and sellers. Each of these methods has serious drawbacks.

- PayPal and _credit cards_ charge fees of 2-3%. They quickly add up to hundreds of dollars on car purchases, eating into budgets for buyers and profits for sellers.
- Cashier's checks cause delays in accessing funds and are super old-school and clunky.
- Bank transfers mean sharing financial details online with strangers, which raises major privacy and fraud risks for buyers and sellers alike. They also take time to clear.
- In-person cash exchanges place undue security burdens and risks on both buying and selling parties when handling _thousands of dollars_ in cash. It’s also inconvenient to withdraw and deposit large amounts of cash.

There is a better way to transfer funds safely, cheaply, and quickly. Try PrivateAuto Pay today when you sell a car on PrivateAuto or buy a used car on our platform.

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