Knox County man scammed by online classified car ad

Investigations

HEISKELL, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knox County man lost a thousand dollars when he tried to buy a used car using an app on his phone. It’s a free classified ad service called LetGo.

At one time, buying used items involved taking a chance on your neighbor’s garage sale. Nowadays, with the help of some apps, you can get almost anything with a few taps of your phone. It’s critical, however, to make the trades or transactions person-to-person.

Walt, who did not want to use his last name, has a 19-year-old Buick LeSabre with nearly 200,000 miles on it. While reliable, it’s worn out. The interior is fragile, the power windows no longer work, and the front dashboard has flipped up from the sun beating on it. Walt went looking for a used car via an online classified ad.

“I used the LetGo app,” he said.

From the LetGo app, he searched for used Toyotas and found one – a 2007 Camry with 81,000 miles. The cost was $1,000.

Walt thought it was a big bargain, but it turned out not to be. Walt received only emails, no phone calls. The source was the seller Valerie Chandler who claimed she’s in the Army.

“The reason she’s selling the car is because she is in training on a military base and is getting ready to leave the country on the 15th of next month and wants to make a quick sale. And her husband drove the car and passed away four months ago. They requested my name and address for shipping information. Looked very legitimate to me. Then I got an email from Ebay Motors,” said Walt.

What Walt doesn’t know, is it’s easy to copy the logo. Unlike some services, Let Go does not have an inbuilt payment platform meaning they don’t charge sellers any fees. Walt didn’t know this.

One of the messages to Walt said he could not pay with either a credit or debit card. He had to buy gift cards.

“So I went and bought five, hundred dollar gift cards. A thousand dollars,” he said .”I was instructed to come back home, call the number on here and give them the pin numbers on the back. That’s where I made my mistake.”

The money was gone. Walt contacted LetGo and they removed the ad.

The next time he deals with someone online, he’ll insist the seller be present.

“If they’re not standing there in front of you with that product, don’t even waste your time. Don’t give anybody PIN numbers. Don’t do it because you are going to lose your money,” Walt said.

It’s safe to use the LetGo app or Craigslist. Millions have been successful in their transactions,. Just make sure you make a guaranteed exchange of money with no money cards or, better yet, make it a person-to-person transaction.

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