I was recently approached to sell my car - it was advertised on the internet - and I could have lost the car plus an extra amount.

The scammers, Nigeria based [per the Niagara Regional Police], agree to buy your car or other item and send you a cashiers cheque [called certified in Canada] in the sale amount plus an extra amount to cover shipping costs in my case.

The shipping company [bogus] confirms contact and sends confirmation plus conditions of transport, etc. It requests shipping money up front before the car is picked up.

At this point the scammer asks you to forward the shipping funds to an individual in the shipping company, by Western Union. According to police many people will do so from their personal funds to expedite the sale, even though the cheque has not cleared the bank.

Note on Cheque Clearances - banks do not know when cheques clear- only when they do not. Clearances can take up to eight weeks and international clearances average 3-4 weeks.

Responsibility - The bank can hold you responsible if you spend any part of the funds and then find that the cheque was bogus.

  • If your gut feeling says CAUTION!- be careful.
  • If the purchasor does not ask pertinent questions about the car or is not interested in coming to see it- CAUTION!

If you do accept payment, discuss with your bank about how long to wait for clearance AND who will be responsible if you spend the money and the cheque bounces. Then tell the purchasor how long he must wait until you will release the car or pay out funds on his behalf.

This is a widespread scam done by professionals and has operated for 20 years. Evidently people in the US paid out over $20 million last year!

Paul Montgomery       December 4, 2003

Return to Classified Ads Page

Last revision: 04-Dec-2003