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How scammers are targeting used car shoppers in Arizona

KNXV Fullscreen Let Joe Know
Posted at 5:00 AM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 15:35:08-04

Have you shopped for a used car lately? Get ready for a shock.

Prices are up 12% over the same time last year and it's good news for sellers.

It's also good for scammers who are luring buyers with great deals to steal their money.

It happened to Blake.

He reached out to the Let Joe Know team about a car he bought for $8,200.

But after buying it, he says he found "the transmission is slipping badly."

He also says the title showed a lien had been paid off.

When he took a closer look, he saw the paid-off part was in pen, not printed on the title. So there was a lien he'd have to pay to get the title in his name.

When buying a car, demand to see the seller's car title and examine it closely.

Check for liens that would have to be paid and to see if the car has a "salvage" certification meaning it had serious damage.

Make sure the name on the title matches the seller's name. The signature on the back of the title should be notarized.

Doug Pacey with the Arizona Department of Transportation says checking the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is also important.

"Does the VIN on the dash match up with the VIN somewhere else on the vehicle? If there are two different VINs, I'd walk away," Pacey says.

Carfax, Badvin and other services show a car's history and are worth the money.

They should also indicate past mileage to verify that the odometer is accurate or possibly rolled back.

Another viewer shared his experience about another buying issue.

Thomas reached out to the Let Joe Know team about a steal he found at $7,200.

He bought it and took it to a mechanic who found "it has severe frame damage and is unsafe to drive."

Thomas says the seller disappeared and he regrets not telling that person he needed the car checked out before buying.

Pacey says if the seller won't allow the car to be examined by a pro, "it's a big red flag."

If you're selling a car, you also take risks.

Are you getting paid through an app or meeting the buyer at a bank and getting cash? Never take a check.

Also, you want the car out of your name, so you are no longer liable.

Pacey says you must file a "sold notice" with the state.

"It will protect you if the car you're selling, later on, gets involved in a crime, a crash, or gets abandoned, things like that," he says.

You also need to transfer the title to the buyer.

Pacey says it's easy if the buyer and seller both have accounts set up through the state.

Also, if the seller has an account through, the buyer can see the name and which cars are associated with the account.

For those seller ads from people far away who would ship you a car, beware!

They sometimes use "eBay Motors" to sound legitimate.

Ebay Motors is real but can only be utilized through, not on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or anywhere else someone tries to use it.

You always want to see what you are buying and examine the title. Never pay upfront for just a promise.

If you're buying a used car, the Arizona Department of Transportation has a detailed checklist of what you should do before spending your money.

To read the checklist, click here.