Online Scams

The Covered Trailer Facebook Marketplace Scam and How It Works

Jim Dee
Jim Dee
Nov 24, 2020 · 7 min read

🚚 An interesting one I stumbled across the other day. 🚚

Photo from a current Facebook scam post. This one shows the “Spartan” model.

The other day, I was casually browsing Facebook Marketplace and happened across an ad for a covered trailer (listed as “Carmate Enclosed Trailer” but also appearing as “2016 Spartan 14X7 Enclosed Trailer” and probably a bunch of other trailer makes/models).

I actually wasn’t in the market for a trailer, but by coincidence was planning on renting a U-Haul soon that would set me back about a grand. So, when I saw an enclosed trailer listed for about the same price, I got to thinking, “Wow, maybe I can just buy this thing, use it, and then resell it!” — thus saving me most or all of the U-Haul cost.

As of this writing, several of these ads (the Spartan ones) still appear on the Portland Facebook Marketplace. They look like this:

SCAM ads on Facebook Marketplace. I reported these to FB, but FB did nothing about them.

Now, I had zero idea at the time what covered trailers cost, so the $1,200 price (or the $1,205 as shown above, which is insanely low) didn’t tip me off that this was a scam. I’ve since learned that newer trailers like this are more like $4–6k. So, anyone in the know on these things might be suspicious from the start. But that low price surely pulls in the inquiries for these scammers!

Still unaware it was a scam, I sent the seller a note asking about the dimensions and whether it was available. That’s when I got my first inkling that something was just a little off. The DM said something like, “I’m listing this on Facebook for my aunt. Please email her directly with any questions about the trailer, at ely10stevens@gmail.com.” (That was the ACTUAL address given, as I have zero problems publishing actual scammer info!)

Whenever a seller takes you OFF Facebook, that’s always a tip-off that something unusual may be afoot. Still, it seemed fairly believable, so I did email that address, asking if I could see the trailer. Here’s the response I got:

Ok, still sounded legit to me. But, being the curious type that I am (and probably just a tad leery about this all being off-Facebook now), I wanted to get a feel for whomever I was potentially dealing with. So, I Googled the email address and, sure enough, some results appeared:

Yep, I’d involved myself with a scammer. Here’s a link to the ScamWarners listing.

Apparently, according to the sites above, what happens is they will eventually send you an invoice, which will be fake, and I suppose some people will actually pay it. And that’s the end of the scam.

(At this point, I also (finally) looked up the actual value of these trailers. It’s no wonder so many people inquire, with a possible deal like that!)

I decided to continue to engage, just to see for myself what happens next. So, I asked to come see it. Here’s what I got back:

Lol, suddenly she’s in Billings, Montana. But no worries, I replied like so:

And that was the end of it. I couldn’t get “Emily” to respond any further.

A few days passed and I began to notice many more such scams listed. I sent an inquiry to one of the ones marked “2016 Spartan 14X7 Enclosed Trailer” and got a similar response, first asking me to email her off Facebook, and then the following very similar response:

So, in general:

  • Watch out for Facebook listings that guide you to take the discussion off Facebook. They do this so that Facebook has no record of any fraudulent conversations like the ones shown. Judging from the number of listings still available, Facebook is NOT actively pursuing these types of scammers.
  • If you get any clues to the person’s name, email, etc., look them up online before dealing with them. Try to get a feel that you’re dealing with an actual, normal human being and not a scammer. If *I* list something for sale, you’ll be able to see my public profile on Facebook. If a scammer lists something, they’ll generally have almost zero presence.
  • Don’t send people money, via ANY means, no matter how legit it might seem (e.g., mentioning eBay) until you GET the item(s) in hand. Always, always, always get the item before giving up the $$$ (unless it’s an actual eBay transaction, of course).
  • Be safe always. When you meet, bring along a friend, meet in public places, and have your mental radar on full alert for anything sketchy. If something seems off at all, back out of the deal. If something is definitely wrong, report it — either to Facebook or even to the authorities if it’s serious enough.

Check your Facebook Marketplace for such scams. If they’re here in Portland, OR, then they’re probably just about everywhere.

✍🏻 Jim Dee maintains three blogs — Hawthorne Crow, Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine, and Wonderful Words, Defined — and contributes to various Medium pubs. Connect at JPDbooks.com, Amazon, FB, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. His latest screwball literary novel, CHROO, is a guaranteed good time.

Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine

WDWD Magazine features articles on web site design /…

Jim Dee

Written by

Jim Dee

Web guy at ArrayWebDevelopment.com; author of books & blogs. See: JPDbooks.com.

Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine

WDWD Magazine features articles on web site design / development, internet marketing, social media, SEO, and topics like marketing, communications, business development, etc. Editor: Jim Dee of Array Web Development — jim@arraywebdevelopment.com.

Jim Dee

Written by

Jim Dee

Web guy at ArrayWebDevelopment.com; author of books & blogs. See: JPDbooks.com.

Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine

WDWD Magazine features articles on web site design / development, internet marketing, social media, SEO, and topics like marketing, communications, business development, etc. Editor: Jim Dee of Array Web Development — jim@arraywebdevelopment.com.

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