February 5, 2023

The Veracity Report

a 2018 Chevrolet Camaro

Swindled, How a Georgia Man Got Duped Out of His $50K Camaro Through Facebook Marketplace

Now, he has to pay the $750 per month payments for a car he’ll likely never see again

a 2018 Chevrolet Camaro

A little over a week ago, when Ethan Hines sold his almost $50,000, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro on Facebook Marketplace, he ended up falling victim to a new twist and modestly inventive spin on an old type of scam. I know what you’re thinking, that was his first mistake, but wait, it gets better.

 Photos pf the suspect as he inspects the car

The Marketplace ad ended up getting answered by a guy in South Carolina who, by all accounts seemed on the up and up. Still, Ethan wasn’t born yesterday and didn’t just take the guy at his word.

When the suave buyer agreed to purchase the car, he informed Ethan that he would be wiring an electronic check directly into Ethan’s own bank account for the full purchase price of the car. After all, you didn’t imagine the dude was going to ride into GA with a briefcase filled with $50,000 in $100s and $50s, did you?

The interior of a 2018 Chevrolet Camaro

No, it wasn’t your typical fake check kind of gag, you see, Mr. Hines isn’t a dummy and made sure to vet the supposed buyer’s payment through the financial institution that issued it. In this case, that is a South Carolina Credit Union called VyStar.

The letter from Vystar Claiming that the debt was paid in full

When Ethan contacted Vystar, they informed him that the electronic check was being issued and all was good. What’s more, they even sent Ethan a letter confirming the completion of the transaction and that the debt had been paid in full.

It wasn’t until 4 full days after the transaction had been completed that Ethan got a notice from his bank that the transaction had been reversed – because the electronic check had bounced. Of course, by then, the mystery buyer was long gone – as was Ethan’s Camaro, which he is now sadly still on the hook to make the $750 per month car payments for until this issue is resolved.

The Police report

Fortunately, Ethan’s girlfriend had taken some pictures of the scammer while he was looking at the car, which they have turned over to the police investigating the incident. Unfortunately, those photos have not led to a positive identification of the man, and, as you might expect, the Facebook profile used to initiate the transaction turned out to be fake and has since been taken down.

This is a video of the initial news report where Ethan also explains what happened in his own words.

https://youtu.be/9aqPcf9uVmQ

In all honesty, being knowledgeable about these types of scams, from investigating them for years, we can’t see how this case will take much longer to resolve. First, because we are dealing with a 2018 Chevrolet, Ethan’s Camaro is equipped with OnStar which gives the manufacturer, and, by attrition, the police investigating this theft, the exact location of the car. However, these types of GPS systems have their limits.

If the scammer were of the unsophisticated type, and just stole the car to drive it around, this case would be solved very quickly. Unfortunately for Ethan, this particular con-man appears savvy enough to have thought this out pretty well and has almost certainly done this before.

That means that this beautiful Camaro was almost certainly broken down into a million pieces within 24 hours of being stolen. That’s because OnStar, and other theft recovery systems such as LoJack as well as others, can only work if the car’s battery is connected. Almost any non-amateur thief knows this and knows to disconnect it almost instantly.

A few theft recovery companies have begun putting battery backups on their devices to thwart a thief who stops at just disconnecting the battery cables. These will continue to power the system’s GPS tracker for up to a full day or two after a vehicle’s battery has been disconnected. The problem is, the thieves know this too. When they are experienced enough to have thought out scams as intricate as this one obviously was, (long-cons as they are often called), it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the vehicle was stripped almost immediately and that the theft detection system was located and destroyed in a very short amount of time after the vehicle was stolen.

The good news in this whole debacle, however, is that Ethan has reported his car stolen and the theft has been confirmed as the police continue their investigation. Because of this, Ethan will only have to make one or two of those payments to keep his credit current until either the car is either recovered, or the insurance company is required to write the car off as a complete loss. If the car is written off as a loss and then later recovered, it would then be delivered to the insurance company who would then be the car’s rightful owner.

None of this lessens the pain for poor Ethan, having to make even one payment for a car he doesn’t have and most likely will never see again. Still, we at The Veracity Report prefer to look at the positive side of things – it could have been a lot worse. Also, Ethan and everyone involved has learned valuable lessons that will remain with them for the rest of their lives—or so we hope.

Kurt Dillon reporting — Because the Truth Matters!