Online Car Auction Scams: How to Avoid Fraud and Stay Safe

Online Car Auction Scams Representation

Online car auctions have become increasingly popular over the years, offering buyers the opportunity to purchase vehicles from all over the world without leaving the comfort of their own homes. However, with the rise of online car auctions, there has also been an increase in scams and fraudulent activities.

Car auction scams can cause financial devastation if buyers aren’t aware of the warning signs and how to avoid them. In this blog, we’ll discuss common online car auction scams and provide tips on how to stay safe while purchasing a vehicle online.

1 – Phantom Listings

Phantom listings are fraudulent car listings that don’t actually exist. Scammers often create fake listings that offer great deals on vehicles not for sale. The listings usually have little to no pictures or vague descriptions and are listed well below market value.

Once the buyer contacts the seller for further information about the car, the seller will ask for money upfront before proceeding with the purchase. After the money is wired or sent, the supposed seller disappears, leaving the buyer with no car and no way of getting their money back.

To avoid Phantom listings, it’s best to use a reputable online car auction site that verifies all their sellers’ information., for instance, verifies every seller’s information before they can list their vehicle on their site. They also offer escrow services to protect buyers from scams.

2 – Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Another common car auction scam that occurs online is the out-of-sight, out-of-mind scam. This is when the supposed seller tells the buyer that the vehicle is in a different location, such as a different state or country. They will ask for the money upfront and disappear without ever sending the car.

To avoid this scam, ask for detailed pictures of the vehicle before agreeing to purchase it. If possible, have someone inspect the vehicle in person to make sure it is in the condition the seller claims it is in.

3 – Bidding Wars

Bidding wars can be a lot of fun, but they can also cause buyers to overpay for a vehicle or fall victim to a false bidding war. It’s common for scammers to create multiple accounts and bid against themselves to raise the price of the vehicle. Then, when the winner sends money for the vehicle, the seller disappears.

Always monitor the bidding history and ensure there aren’t any suspicious bidding patterns before entering a bid.

4 – Title Washing

Title washing is when a seller hides the fact that a vehicle has a salvage title or has been involved in an accident. They will alter the title or transfer the vehicle to another state to remove any evidence of the damage.

To avoid title washing, run a vehicle history report before purchasing the vehicle. offers a free vehicle history report with every listing, making it easy for buyers to see the vehicle’s history before purchasing.

5 – Payment Scams

Finally, payment scams are common car auction scams. Scammers will ask the buyer to send payment through an unsecured method or wire transfer to a personal account. Once the money is sent, the seller disappears, and the buyer is left with no car and no way of getting their money back.

Only secure payment methods, such as PayPal or escrow services, to avoid payment scams. offers a secure escrow service to protect buyers from payment scams.


Online car auction scams are becoming more frequent, but they can be avoided with careful research and common sense. At, we take the safety and security of our buyers seriously. We verify every seller’s information, offer free vehicle history reports, and secure payment methods to protect our buyers from scams.

Don’t fall victim to a car auction scam. Stay safe and knowledgeable when purchasing a vehicle online.


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