Used Car stories: The scammed Ford Bronco

So Zack got his license two days ago, and really wants a car. Say it will save him tons of time in his life (true).
So yesterday I get a call from him: He and his friend Mark(his girlfriend’s dad, actually), are back from the gym and the see a Ford Bronco for sale in a parking lot–listed price $800.00. Zack loves trucks and he’s completely excited. We’ve got another used car prospect(see next post), but this one gets him going.
So 7:30 am this morning we drive to Mark’s house, five us of pile into Mark’s truck, and we got to see this Bronco. I’ve got $800 in cash and my checkbook, just in case we want to buy it (or the other car.)
So, the car’s in the lot by the Lion supermarket and the first thing I notice is its been left unlocked. Seems odd. The interior is ragged, looks 18 years old for sure. The guys pull up (young) and tell us the truck belong to their grandpa, but that they’ve bought a nice new truck and don’t have the money to keep both, so want to sell. They say the gas pump is busted, so they’ll drop the price from $800 to $500.
Mark and his dad Mickey go over the engine. They prime the fuel line with ether and get it going. The truck’s a deal at $500–worth that much just for parts. I’m not crazy about buying Zack a truck, but I’m willing to go for it.
Then the deal starts to go sour.
They’ve got a title, but it’s in someone else’s name who lives in Modesto, CA. So when I ask about the seller’s ID, he says “I left my wallet at home.” When I say, very firmly, “I’m gonna need to see your ID and where you live to buy this truck,” he agrees to have his cousin bring his wallet over, but he gets uneasy.
The cousin shows up in the shiny new truck he said he just bought, but his ID is from Arizona, has a different name than the one he’s told us(and signed on the bill of sale), and it’s expired. Something clicks: How can he buy a new truck with an expired drivers license?
We ask some questions, like “So what is your name anyway? You seem to have two different ones on the ID and the bill of sale.”
I’m concerned about these guys melting away and us having trouble registering the truck, so I copy down the license plate number on the new truck, figuring that’s a great person locator. When he cousin sees me do that, he gets real upset, and the stories start to change:
Now the truck is really from the neighbor of his grandpa, who gave it to him, but he signed the title so what’s the big deal? And he doesn’t really live here, he lives in AZ, and what’s the big deal anyway?
We say we’re totally interested in the truck, but that we’d need to run the numbers and check with the DMV on Monday before we were comfortable forking over the jack. At this point, the guy gets in my face: “Okay, the deal’s off! I have another interested buyer who I am going to sell to for more money!”
The vibe now is lets get out of here fast, so we say “Hey, that’s great,”pile into Mark’s truck, and head off.
As we talk it over, the group agrees that the truck was probably “borrowed” from someone who might be old, in the hospital, or in jail and not in a position to report it missing, and they were definitely eager to make sure e could not find them once they had our cash.
Scammers. And we came that close.
Lesson: If it’s too good to be true, watch yourself, it might be a set-up.

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