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I recently listed my wife’s car for sale on Autotrader. I was contacted by a prospective buyer via text message. I was immediately suspicious since I Googled the area code of the phone number and discovered it’s in Wyoming. I live in Michigan. I asked him to confirm his location. He explained he’s active military. And he’s buying the car for his father. And he would arrange to have the car picked up by a third party. Further would arrange payment through PayPal assuming I have an account (I do). I like to trust people. And I’m a fervent supporter of our military. But I see enough red flags to figure this is a fraud attempt. In fact I thought I just recently read of a fraud alert either posted on PayPal or somewhere describing a similar scam. Thoughts?
Even if this isn't a scam; you shouldn't use PayPal for buying or selling a vehicle, except for a small deposit to hold the vehicle, until the buyer shows up with cash. The issue is that items sold locally/picked up in person don't qualify for Seller Protection, and vehicles specifically, don't qualify. Items sold through PayPal need to be able to be tracked and shown as delivered to the recipient. Items that you've sold for over $750.00, need to be sent with a signature required.
For future transactions—emails from PayPal will always address you by your first and last name or business name. If you're unsure of an email, go to the website directly and log in to check if there are any notices or transactions in your account. If you don't see any activity in your account, then its safe to say that you didn't receive any payments.
Here is a PayPal link with details on scams.