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Woman Ripped-Off by Internet Car Scam!

A Winona, MN woman has been the apparent victim of an Internet fraud scam that involved buying a used car.

The 54-year-old woman saw the car, a Ford Escape, advertised on the Internet for $8,300. She wrote an e-mail to the seller who said she had just lost her job in the United States and had moved to London. The seller of the car said the sport-utility vehicle was in Oklahoma and asked the Winona woman to wire the amount via Western Union. The seller would, in turn, produce the title and would arrange for a pick up.

The Winona woman complied and wired the money to Great Britain where it was received. When the title never came and she never heard back from the seller after repeated attempts, she contacted the Winona police. Investigators since discovered that the seller, using the name of Mary Beyer, doesn't have a U.S. or British passport, and the address the seller gave was false.

Western Union could not trace the money beyond the collection point. The crime has been turned over the Internet Crime Commission.

By Darrell Ehrlick / Winona Daily News

Listen Folks . . . there are a lot of good deals to be had on the Internet, but you've got to use a little common sense.

Here are a few common sense points to remember if you are buying a car from a private individual over the Internet:

  • If the person you're dealing with is in another country and requesting that you wire money to them. . . well, let's just say this is a major red flag!

  • Before you send anybody a single dime have them fax you a copy of the title. . .both sides. . .so you can be sure there is no lien on it.

  • You must find a way to verify that the car actually exists and is where the seller says it should be.

  • Arrange to have a mechanic from the area where the car is inspect the car and verify the condition of the vehicle. Also have him verify the serial # which you now have since you have a copy of the title.

  • You must absolutely run a CARFAX Record Check or a Vehicle History Report from on the vehicle. This will give you the history of the car and tell you if it has been seriously wrecked, if the odometer has been tampered with and if the vehicle has had any storm or flood damage, etc.

  • If everything checks out arrange to have someone you trust, or yourself go to pick up the car. At that time you can pay for the car and get the clear title all at the same time.

  • You must make sure that the person you are dealing with actually owns the car or has a power-of-attorney to legally sell the vehicle. Have the seller fax a copy of some ID!

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