A cautionary tale: How eBay Motors scammers nearly ripped me off big-time

2005 Porsche Boxster S

The deal on this 2005 Porsche Boxster S seemed to good to be true, and it was.

In retrospect, I should have heard the alarm bells clanging, but I was so focused on the purchase of a coveted 2005 Porsche Boxster S that I apparently was struck deaf and, yes, dumb (as in stupid).

A story that started with the loss of my wife’s cherished 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 two-seat roadster looked as if it might have a happy ending when I spotted the low-mileage Boxster for sale at eBay Motors. But I was wrong, very wrong, very nearly $12,500 wrong.

To set matters straight from the start, this in no way had anything to do with eBay Motors, a trustworthy organization for anyone who is careful to follow the rules.

But, let’s start from the beginning.

It was a mid-summer Sunday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm appeared almost out of nowhere. The ferocious downpour sent torrents of water down the street at the edge of our property. The river of rain quickly overran the curb, seeped through the passenger-side door of the Mercedes and soaked the right-side floor mat.

As soon as I could wade through the fast-running water, I hopped into the  car, started it up and moved it to dry ground. The car ran fine, but the right-side rug was wet, the passenger’s power seat was frozen at an odd angle and the air bag warning light was glowing in the instrument panel.

Long story short, the service manager at the area Mercedes-Benz dealership estimated damage to the electronics at maybe $2,000. The insurance adjuster didn’t see it that way and, surprisingly, declared the car a total loss. I was shocked; my wife was nearly in tears.

Nevertheless, a fair settlement was agreed upon and I was ready to start car shopping again.

And this is where the cautionary tale begins. I’m not using names, because I  figure the scam might also have involved identity theft.

I turned on the computer, went to eBay Motors and began looking for bargains. An hour into my search I came across what looked like a pristine blue 2005 Porsche Boxster S with a mere 12,000 miles on the odometer. Bidding was stalled at a surprisingly low $12,500 (clang).

I e-mailed the seller for more details, and was told everything was as described. The alleged seller added that “I’m selling it at this price because it was my husband’s car who passed away 5 months ago (clang, clang) and I can’t stand to see it anymore. (clang, clang, CLANG). The last price is $12,500 (clang, CLANG, CLANG). The shipping is included in the price. (CLANG, CLANG, CLANG).

Oddly, when I looked for the car on eBay the following day, it was gone. I contacted the alleged seller to see if the Porsche had been sold. The alleged seller said it was still available.

I did some investigating. I Googled the seller’s name, and learned the “deceased” person had existed and lived in the same town where the Porsche supposedly was located.

Later I also checked the vehicle out on CarFax and found that the vehicle identification number matched the car that I was going to buy.

We began serious negotiations and I received these instructions.