Car Sellers Should Be Wary Of Online Scams

UPDATED 06/21/11 6:40 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban couple says they gave up the keys to their convertible BMW and were left holding a fake check for 34-thousand-dollars. CBS 2’s Mai Martinez has their story and tips to protect you from falling for the same scam when selling a used car.

Bruce and Myrna Newman thought they’d never drive their BMW convertible again after they sold it about a month ago.

“It was like I gave somebody a part of my life,” Bruce Newman said.

They also thought they’d never see it again after the cashier’s check the buyer used to pay for it turned out to be bogus.

“I just gave it away. I said, ‘Here you go, take my car,’” Bruce said.

It started with an ad on The Newmans listed their car for $36,000 and were thrilled when a buyer asked for a test drive. Bruce met the man downtown.

Asked if the man looked like somebody who could afford to buy a BMW, Bruce said, “Yes, he pulled up in another BMW. He was well dressed.

After a quick spin, the man said he wanted to buy the car. Bruce agreed to sell it for $34,000 and they met the next day to exchange payment for title.

“He was in a Jaguar, a newer Jaguar, so I thought this guy had money, and … everything was going to work out fine,” Bruce said.

But 10 days after depositing the cashier’s check, the Newmans found out it was a fake.

“It was devastating. How could we be so naive?” Myrna Newman asked.

Luckily for the Newmans, a few days later their daughter did an online search and found their car for sale at a Mount Prospect dealership.

The Newmans alerted police, who seized the car and returned it.

Asked for her advice for others who might be selling their car online, Myrna said that “you need to go to the bank and make sure” that any check you get is legitimate before closing the deal.

The fraud experts at say that is the best advice.

“They can access the account to see if the funds are available, and then you can have your confirmation,” fraud analyst Chris Hood said, adding that you shouldn’t hand over the car’s title until you get confirmation the buyer has the money.

A spokesperson for Fifth Third Bank said that if people can’t make it to a local branch of the bank the check is written on, they should call the bank’s toll-free number to verify the check and the amount.

But they warned not to use any phone number listed on the check itself, because if the check is fake, the phone number might be fake too. Instead, people need to find the bank’s phone number on their own by going online or using other means.

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