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Curt’s Story: Tractor Sale to Tractor Scam

Posted on 06/03/24 by Pam Dube

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Curt, a Granite Stater who lives up north, was in the market for a used tractor for personal use. He decided to look at Facebook Marketplace. After searching for a bit, Curt found one listing that perfectly matched what he was looking for. He was thrilled! Using the chat feature, he contacted the seller to inquire about the price of the tractor as it was so low.

After some back and forth discussion with the seller, Curt was given contact information for the seller’s sister, whom the purchase would continue through. The sister then explained to Curt that her husband had recently died and that her mother was sick. She was leaving for a military deployment in a couple weeks and needed to sell the tractor. She asked Curt for his email and home address so she could send more info about the tractor. She also let him know that she wanted to complete the sale through eBay. Curt then received an email from eBay with instructions on how to pay for the tractor. This involved buying $1,500 worth of gift cards.

“I have an account on eBay, and I’d never heard of paying for anything on the site with gift cards,” said Curt. “She said the tractor was all packaged and ready to ship. She was in a hurry to get the deal going. I looked at the eBay web address and it was not valid.”

The seller instructed Curt to buy the gift cards in several stores, so it did not look suspicious that he was buying so many. In most stores it is a policy for cashiers to ask customers about buying gift cards in bulk. The seller told Curt to not mention the tractor and to simply say, “There are a lot of birthdays coming up.” She further instructed Curt to give her the identification numbers on all the gift cards.

It all started feeling fishy to Curt. After looking back at the eBay email, there was something noticeably different about it compared to others he’d received in the past. It looked like it was a phishing email or made to look like a real eBay email.

Reynolds became suspicious of the seller’s demands as well as other things that just seemed off such as the change in who he was dealing with for the sale and the seller’s deployment. There were lots of red flags. He decided to cease contact with them, a very smart move!

“As I have been active in giving AARP fraud prevention presentations in the community, I had a head start on what to be aware of on the internet,” said Curt. “I kept copies of this transaction so I could share this experience with others.

Curt successfully avoided being the victim of a scam because he was familiar with the red flags.

“Scams are always changing, so we need to stay current on the methods criminals use to steal from us,” said Curt. “Knowing what to look for is a start and sharing experiences with others is important. These scams aren’t going away, so we need to know the red flags when we see them.”

For more information on how to spot and stop scams, visit the AARP NH Fraud Watch Network.

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