By Kristine Lazar

CANOGA PARK (CBSLA) – The car was exactly what Carolyn Bui of Canoga Park was looking for for her son in college: a 2012 Honda Accord.

“I was a little doubtful that a 2012 could be $2,000,” said Bui.

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But the seller – who she found on Facebook Marketplace – told Bui the car was discounted for a quick sale because her husband had died and she was leaving for the military.

Bui says she asked to see the car, but the seller told her it was in storage and would be delivered to her instead.

“I received another email from the eBay that the car is shipping to my son,” she said.

Bui thought her purchase was secure because the contract said it was being run through eBay with “Buyer protection.” Bui was to pay with $4,500 gift cards.

Had she looked closely, she would have seen that it wasn’t an official eBay email address.

When the car never arrived, Bui realized she had been scammed. She checked the balance of the gift cards. They had been drained, spent at stores like Tory Burch.

The Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles has recently been flooded with complaints of used car scams.

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CEO Steve McFarland says the MO is similar in most of the scams:

– The car is priced well below market value. A 2012 Honda Accord should be priced closer to $10,000, according to Kelley Blue Book;

– The seller often says they are leaving for the military or there has been a death in the family. Bui’s scammer mentioned both;

– They won’t meet in person, often citing COVID as the reason; and

– The scammers ask to be paid via wire transfer or gift cards.

“If you paid via gift card or wire, it’s unlikely you’ll get your money back,” McFarland said. “Prevention is key.”

Bui found the same ad, with the same photos and same price, but a different seller name, back on Facebook after she was scammed.

“I want people to see that this person is still out there scamming people,” she said.

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McFarland says no one should buy a car without getting their own VIN scan report and make sure to match the car with the registration. If you’re concerned about meeting in person, you can do it all over zoom.

Kristine Lazar