I sell a lot of cars on Craigslist (#jaloplife), and I get a lot of scam replies to my ads. Most of the time I can spot them right away, but lately I’ve been getting more sophisticated phishing scam attempts from VIN report websites.

Here’s how it goes down: I post my Craigslist ad and within a day or two I receive a reasonable email from an interested buyer. For example:

Is your VW still available? Would you bargain a bit?

Or:

Hi ,

I like your VW , do you have service records that I can see ?

Fairly reasonable messages, despite the extra spaces and the curious use of the word “bargain” instead of “haggle.” I respond, because I want to sell the car, and I receive a few more reasonable questions about service history and vehicle condition. Then, after about three messages, I get a canned request to buy a vehicle history report:

Hello again,

Fine, that sounds really good to me. I’d be grateful a lot if you could purchase the report and that you obtain it on [REDACTED] because they’re the most reliable in my opinion. They’re a way cheaper than a CarFax and you know how it is, every dollar you save counts. I don’t want to pay for it because if it’s bad then I surely won’t buy your vehicle, but you could always show it to another interested person.

Hope to hear from you soon, Jacob

Here’s another one, from another person, referring to a different VIN report site:

Hello again,

I’d be grateful if you could purchase the report and that you pull it from [REDACTED] because they’re the most accurate to me at the moment. They’re a way cheaper than a CarFax and you know how it is, every dollar you save counts. I don’t want to pay for it because if it’s bad then I surely won’t buy your vehicle, but you could always show it to another customer who wants to check it out.

Hope to hear from you soon, Todd

Two different messages, one from Jacob Hensley and another from Todd Kelley. Obviously both from the same phishing scam, but point to two different sites. I won’t link to them here because, well, they’re scams. Beware these fake requests and don’t get any kind of VIN report from an unknown site. Or maybe at all. If someone wants a history report on your car, they can pay for it.

If you stumble on any of these scams, you can report them to the Better Business Bureau or the FBI or Google.

Good luck out there, Jalops. Stay safe.