A local man's tale of trying to buy a car online ended with him as the victim of a scam instead.
Robert Grant walks nine long blocks then takes a bus to work each day. At its worst, his commute could take him 90 minutes.
"I think that's what kind of makes me desperate,” he said.
His own car could get Robert to work in just 15 minutes. So he tried LetGo in search of some wheels. It's a free, person to person, sales app. He found a 2005 Nissan Maxima for $1000.
"It appeared to sound like a lady saying she was in the service and she was going to be out of the country for a year and she didn't want to keep paying storage on the car,” Robert said.
The seller had one request. She wanted to use Ebay. “To protect me and her,” Robert said.
Robert got an email that appeared to be from Ebay Motors. It said payment must be made through Wal-Mart gift cards. So he bought three cards from a nearby store.
He called the number for customer service provided in the email and read the card numbers over the phone. He was told his car would be shipped in 3-5 days.
"I get another email telling me there's something wrong with my shipping,” he said.
A couple of days later, he was told he needed to pay another $1000. He refused, but was told he would get a full refund.
"I called back like a day or two later and the phone just rang, rang, rang and rang."
Turns out, Robert’s email from Ebay wasn't from Ebay at all. A close look at the address and it's actually from instruction.com, not ebay.com.
Ebay confirms the purchase was a scam and "did not take place on Ebay Motors." Instead it appears the scammer made a fake landing page.
Ebay says payment using gift cards or prepaid debit cards is never allowed on its site.
Robert recalls the moment he first realized he'd lost $1000.
"It was like a I had a death in the family. I mean, I’ve lost money before, but never that amount."
The Better Business Bureau offers some advice when using services like LetGo or Craigslist.
They advise to be cautious of prices that seem too good to be true or pictures that look like they could be from a catalog. And be wary of a seller who won't speak with you on the phone.
The BBB also says buyers should never pay in advance with purchases like this one. When possible, meet the seller in person to see the transaction through and do it in a safe, public place like a mall or coffee shop.