Friday, October 7, 2016

Craigslist tractor scam (also other vehicles)

There's a scam on craigslist that has this basic outline:

A new, or very lightly used vehicle or tractor is advertised for a price that is 1/3rd to 1/4 of the price that it would normally sell at.  The seller lists a telephone number or  you can contact them via the craigslist email system.

The telephone number is almost always one of the fake internet telephone services (think google voice) and the email address is almost always a semi-anonymous one, (think gmail or hotmail or yahoo).

The seller will sell  you the vehicle, and wants you to complete the transaction via the ebay escrow service, claiming that your money 'is safe and you can send the vehicle/tractor back in 5 days' if you aren't satisfied.  Here's a longer explanation of how they get your money courtesy of reddit user raevnos.

I'm in the market for a particular model of john deere tractor.  they sell, used, for between $60 and $80k - so it's not cheap.  When i found one that looked brand new being offered for sale for $21,500 it rang warning bells.  Here's the whole transaction:

Original craigslist ad:
original ad from craigslist
 Note that the tractor tires show no wear at all.   This is either a brand-new machine, or machine that has just had brand new tires put on it.  Fair market value for this model and year of tractor in the $60-80k range, depending on hours.  New ones sell for more.  that's the used price.

The sellers contact information lists what looks like a local (area code 253) number.  It's an internet phone number not tied to any local phone.  No idea where the person who posted this ad is.  You can get these numbers anywhere.

Here's the email exchange:


Is this tractor still available for sale?  

I'd like to come and take a look at the tractor you've got on craigslist.  I'm at xxx-yyy-zzz


Hello, yes the JD tractor 6430M is still for sale. Can you please text an email where I can send you some pictures and more info. you are interested? I'd really appreciate if you will.


You can reach me at

Vanessa (in reply to that email address):

Hello, my name is Vanessa McFadden happy to see you are interested in my JD tractor.
This is a 2008 JD 6430 Premium, Premium cab, heat, ac. 748 hours 115 engine hp 4 cylinder JD diesel w/turbo 95 pto hp 16 speed power quad transmission Left hand power reverser 540 and 1000 rpm pto-e. Hitch with controls on both rear fenders to raise and lower 3pt-telescopic links Corner exhaust 2 entry doors Rear wiper Command center Deluxe suspension seat AM/FM radio w/cd player 2 mirrors Toolbox Like New!!
Hard to find a nicer model machine like this. The machine is loaded with options it has Premium cab, the heater works, the air conditioner blows cold air, Joystick w/ powershift. Tractor is 1 owner and is like new inside and out. Tractor does not have a leak anywhere and no issues.  Like new.  No emissions on these , hard to find anymore like this.  Tractor has been used to feed cattle.  Clean as a pin.  Needs nothing. The machine was never used in manure. Cab is clean seat is still like new, the engine compartment is like new and not oily or greasy it is absolutely like new, we did put a new battery in it 2 weeks ago.
I have placed recent pictures below so you can see it really looks great. This is a great choice for performance and versatility. Make your work and chores more enjoyable, time and cost effective. Great machine...strong, dependable, and almost no wear.
The tractor is registered on my name, with no liens or loan. The price was reduced at $21,000. Because of my divorce settlement, I own this tractor and I don't need it so I'm trying to get rid of it as soon as possible (that's why I'm selling it so cheap). This machine is as close to new as you will find without buying a new machine and is selling to much more. I can help load and help arrange delivery I will store the machine for 6 months if paid

Thank you
If you have any other questions, or need more info and photos, please feel free to ask.

Can I come and look at that tractor in the next few days?  

Hello again Bruce,
There's an old saying: “Every tractor has a story” .... as I told you I got divorced recently so this was a gift for the 4th year anniversary. Right now I'm in Indianapolis, IN (the tractor is here with me ) because i got a new job here. I supposed to ship the tractor few days back to another buyer, in your area, he told me that his funding should be available by the weekend then he told me this "I don't want you to think I am dragging this out, but it doesn't look as though my funding will be here on Friday. " I have some financial problems right now, so I want to sell it ASAP and I already paid the shipping charges.  Now I want to use eBay's escrow protection, so we can both be protected and insured. With eBay, you get free delivery and it will arrive at your address in 6 to 10 days depending on were you want it shipped. In addition, you will have 5 days to try out prior to making any purchase and if by any reason you find something you don't like about it you can send it back at my expense! I doubt you will let it go once you see and run it. I want to make it very clear, that eBay will hold your money, and I won't be receiving a single dollar unless you call and tell them to release the money to me. If you are ready to buy it, please reply with your whole name, address and phone # so I can notify eBay that you are selected as my buyer, and they will contact you with the electronic paperwork.

Thank you,
Vanessa Mcfadden

My brother drives a flatbed semi and he'll be in chicago, pretty close to you, day after tomorrow.   If you'll give me a location to meet you, I'll have him meet you, and he can look at the tractor for me.  If it's good, we can fedex a cashiers check out to you the next day, or tranfer funds into a bank account, whichever you prefer, and load the tractor directly.  

Let me know if that works for you.

Vanessa:  [sound of Crickets]

Attached to the email were more pictures of this brand-new tractor

No wear inside of top link.  Factory plugs in hydraulic lines
I'm not sure how the money leaves ebay, but I'm very sure that if you did proceed with this scam it would, and this tractor would never appear.  

Buyer beware


ellie k said...

I would asks them to send the serial number and then run a check through John Deere to see where that tractor was or there was a number like that.

Nick Keenan said...

From the article you linked to:
"They often tell you to use the escrow service from Yahoo! Motors, eBay payment agents or Square Trade. In reality none of these provide escrow services or collect money for car transactions. You then receive more official looking fraudulent emails that appear to be from Yahoo!, Square Trade, eBay or others. The emails come complete with logos and instructions on how to pay their "payment agents" via Western Union. The scammers all have the same goal in mind, to trick you into thinking that you are sending in thousands of dollars to a trusted escrow company."

That's how they get you.

Andrew said...

Yeah, this is certainly a scam. The scammer probably would send you to a site designed to impersonate eBay, but it would really be just a front. eBay does have a legitimate escrow service called that can be used for vehicle transactions, but scammers certainly wouldn't be using that.

Bryan USA said...

Has anyone ran across any , that will do c.o.d. I am visiting with one now for a 2210 low hours , shipping already paid due to precious buyer not coming thru with the 1500 , for the tractor that is well .worth 8k .. just curious

Jason Parker said...

I saw one and asked about it after seeing this post
Read on
I'm a flight attendant for American Airlines and because I'm away most of the time I will not be able to deal in person. Before leaving I had pre-arranged a deal with ebay so my presence is not necessary. The tractor is in their possession ready to be delivered. ebay will handle this transaction for me. The total amount that you will pay is $2000 with shipping and transfer fees included. You will receive the tractor in max 48 hours and you will have the chance to inspect it for 5 days. The ebay department will hold and insure your money throughout the inspection. If by any reason you find something you don't like about the tractor you can send it back at my expense and ebay will send you a full refund. I'm sure it won't be the case because the tractor is in excellent condition. It will come with all the necessary paperwork (clear title, bill of sale, user's manual etc). You will receive all the original documents. I signed all the paperwork and the clear title is ready to be transferred to the new owner.

If you are interested in buying my tractor please send me your full name, full shipping address and phone number so I can register the transaction with ebay and they will reply you with more details and information about this transaction.

Thanks, hope to do business with you soon!

Jason Parker said...

Here are the pictures of it

Bruce King said...

Jason, looks like the same sort of scam to me. I don't know that is even associated with ebay. Wonder if ebay knows they're using their name?