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Rochester woman warns of possible car scams on popular app

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Have you ever been tempted to buy something from a person online, but thought it sounded too good to be true? That happened to a Rochester woman earlier this month.

Lois Krippendorf

Lois Krippendorf was looking to buy a $1,200 Honda for her daughter through the popular app, Nextdoor, but felt that something was a bit off.

“I just happened to see it and said this is a really good deal,” she said. Krippendorf contacted the seller and asked for some information. That’s when the seller told here they weren’t actually in Minnesota. They told her they would crate the car and send it to her. “I knew it was a scam, so we didn’t respond.”

Krippendorf later came across another ad, only this time it was for a 2004 Toyota Tundra a couple weeks back. It looked to be in pristine condition, had 69,000 miles on it, and was listed for $2,000. The seller, named Jean Pro, apparently lived in Slatterly Park, but said her sister-in-law Christina was selling it. Below is part of the automated response from Christina to possible car buyers and pictures of the ad on Nextdoor.

My name is Christina, and I sent you this e-mail regarding the sale of my 2004 Toyota Tundra Limited. This truck has only 69k miles and it is in excellent condition. Always garage kept and covered. Has a clean and clear title on my name and there are no liens or loans on it. This truck was used by my husband who died 2 month ago. The price was reduced at $2,000 because I’m in a hurry to find a buyer. I need to sell the car before the 1st of the next month, when I will be leaving for a military duty with my medical team out of the country for a year and do not want to store it. Hate to sell it but its not worth keeping insurance and paying storage fees for a year.
Christina Jackson

This time Krippendorf asked the seller, Christina Jackson, if she lived in Rochester, but never received a response. She posted the second potential scam on Nextdoor. Soon after that, the ad was removed.

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota said sob stories, like the one Krippendorf came across with Christina Jackson, are major red flags.

Bess Ellenson works for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota

“The scenario that was given in those messages is exactly what we see: there’s a sob story as to why someone needs to sell something quick. They put the pressure on the buyer, have a good price, and a lot of people are falling for it,” said Bess Ellison with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota.

Whether you’re looking to buy online or through a cellphone, the BBB advises consumers to know their stuff.

Red flags to look for include: incredibly low prices, like the vehicles Krippendorf came across, and someone asking you to wire them money. Also, if you can’t see your potential purchase in person to give it a good look over, it’s best to forget about it and report it to police. And if you do buy something, it’s best to use a traceable form of payment like a credit card. That’s because if there’s a dispute, you can usually get your money back.

“A lot of these cases, we see the person won’t even talk to you on the phone. It’s all email and text messages. You never really have full contact. Once you’ve made that wire transfer, these people usually fall off the face of the Earth,” added Ellenson.

All this isn’t to say every seller is trying to scam you. “That’s the problem. There are legit people out there trying to sell a vehicle. That’s why it’s so important to do your research.”

You can use the BBB’s Scam Tracker to see what scams have been reported in your area.

Shannon Rousseau

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