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. 🚚

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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:

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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:

— — — — — Forwarded message — — — — -
From: <ely10stevens@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Nov 15, 2020 at 3:06 PM
Subject: Re: Carmate Enclosed Trailer
To: Jim Dee <jim@arraywebdevelopment.com>

Hello, my name is Emily Stevens. My 2016 Carmate is still available, the price is $1200 firm. Length (feet): 16, Type: Ramp, Carrying Capacity (lbs.): 7,000 LBS in good condition. The trailer is in very good condition inside and out, never had rust or any problems. I own a clean title, under my name, no loans or liens on it. The reason for selling is that I don’t really need it, I won it after the divorce with my ex-husband. If you are interested email me back.

God bless you!

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:

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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, , 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:

— — — — — Forwarded message — — — — -
From: <ely10stevens@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Nov 15, 2020 at 4:07 PM
Subject: Re: Carmate Enclosed Trailer
To: Jim Dee <jim@arraywebdevelopment.com>

Now I’m here in Billings, Montana, back with my parents, after the divorce. The trailer is already at the eBay here in Billings along with all the paperwork and the transaction will be done through them. eBay will handle the shipping, the payment, and the paper exchange. The trailer is ready to be delivered to your place. You will have free shipping and 5 days to test-drive and inspect the trailer before I receive any money. If you are really interested in buying my trailer, please reply with your full name, a delivery address and a phone #. I will forward this info to eBay and they will contact you with all the info on how to buy it.

God bless you!

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

— — — — — Forwarded message — — — — -
From: <jim@arraywebdevelopment.com>
Date: Sun, Nov 15, 2020 at 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: Carmate Enclosed Trailer
To: Emily Stevens <ely10stevens@gmail.com>

Oh that sounds wonderful!! My brother lives not 10 miles from billings. Can he please stop by and have a look? I will have him bring $1200 cash, as I believe this will be a perfect fit! Just let me know an address and time. What a coincidence!! Good bless you, too!

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:

— — — — — Forwarded message — — — — -
From: <lesroh3@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 5:18 PM
Subject: Re: RE Trailer
To: Jim Dee <jim@arraywebdevelopment.com>

Hey,

Here are some more details about my 2016 Spartan 14X7 Enclosed Trailer, Condition: excellent, size / dimensions: 14X7X6.2, It doesn’t need any repairs. I have the ownership and clear and clean title on hand. The price was reduced to $1,000 because I’m in a hurry to find a buyer, as my husband died 1 month ago (he suffered a heart attack) and it brings me bad memories. I need to sell the Trailer before the 5th of December when I will be leaving on military duty with my medical team out of the country for a year and I don’t want to store it, without using it.

Right now I’m stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois, doing special training and getting ready for my deployment. Before leaving, I had a prearranged deal with eBay (using this service you will have 5 days to inspect/test the Trailer before I’ll get any money) so my presence isn’t necessary. I think I can have it there at your home address within 3 working days. Also, you will receive the title already notarized and signed over by me, along with the Trailer at delivery. So, you’ll get the Trailer for $1,000, without any additional costs involved because I will cover the delivery fees. I need to know if you are interested so I can ask eBay to send you the details on this deal.

In order to start the deal, I need your full name and delivery address so I can reserve the Trailer for you and they will contact you with all the instructions step by step on how to complete the deal. I will also attach some pics below.

Thank you,
Rose

So, in general:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Always, always, always get the item before giving up the $$$ (unless it’s an actual eBay transaction, of course).
  • 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.

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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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