I was searching on Cars.com, and found a low-mileage, underpriced, 2006 BMW M3 (E46). It was a rare model with the Competition Package in immaculate condition. I contacted the private seller, and he told me his name was "Mack Alan," and that he bought the car in California 3 months ago, fixed it up to mint condition, and moved to Italy with it. He stated that he wasn't able to register the vehicle in Italy, and therefore he must sell it, and shipping is on him because he no one in Europe will buy it anyways. It also seems like a theme with these scammers, they tend to tell you something like, "My wife recently died," or "I recently got divorced." he gave me the divorce story and said that his wife lives in Georgia, THAT's why his cell phone number has an Atlanta area code.
I was able to run the VIN number, proving that the mileage was in fact at 50,000, and that the car was in fact sold 3 months ago, but it wasn't to this guy. At the time, I was still thinking this was legitimate, so I told him I'd like to buy it. At this point we had agreed on the $15,000 price tag, although I wasn't going to pay the majority without seeing the car first, (Note: "Mack" said that was absolutely fine, I didn't have to pay a cent until I see the car.) The next morning he emailed me once from his email, giving me documents of the contract with the shipping company, which was asking for a $2,000 refundable deposit for proof of funds. Everything looked extremely official and real, he even included a photo of a printed receipt of his 1,200 Euro shipping payment. The shipping company he used is called "Atlantic International Freight Service Ltd."
Another red flag is, when I showed the beautiful high resolution photos of this immaculate M3 to my friend who knows much more about them, he pointed out that there is a Stage 3 Dinan aftermarket supercharger fitted, as well as dinan parts all throughout the car. That makes this BMW worth 5-10,000 USD more, and he hadn't even mentioned it. I asked about aftermarket parts and he replied with a very long email listing about 10 highly sought after Dinan parts, as well as extensive engine treatment and replacement parts. Seemed too good to be true.
When the shipping company asked for the $2,000, which was not the deal I had discussed with him, I looked into it.
I found out that this is a scam that's been going on for 10+ years, and multiple people had lost $10k or even $20k to the same scheme. If I hadn't called it off immediately, I would have given the "Shipping Company" my $2,000 deposit, only to have them tell me in a week, that the shipment has been held up at either: another country, or US Customs. At this point they would have demanded the rest of the payment in order for the car to be shipped, and once that was paid, drop off the map. Be careful when car shopping. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Raise Awareness, Prosecute for FRAUD!