We already know that Craigslist transactions can get be dangerous, and that you should take every precaution you can. Now the National Insurance Crime Bureau has issued a warning about a very well organized, multi-state, scam where people are getting fake bank checks and losing their car.

According to CNN.com, the NICB says there have been as many as 100 incidents across the Midwest where a seller would purchase a car and present what looked like a very legitimate bank check. Bank checks are different than personal checks, because it guarantees the funds are immediately available. They are unlike personal checks that have to “clear” before the seller has access to the money. Most folks that sell things on Craigslist or other listing sites often will take a bank check, also called a cashier’s check, instead of cash. Buyers like the convenience of bank checks, because they don’t have to carry large amounts of money.

Now scam artist are counterfeiting bank checks and using them to purchase vehicles. Usually these criminals are operating in states were you can sell your car and still have a loan balance. Victims that were scammed by these fake checks not only had their car stolen, but are still on the hook for the remaining balance of their auto loan.

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In order to protect yourself against these scams you could require the buyers bring cash to the transaction. However, given the risk of being robbed they might not be comfortable with that. Another tip is to conduct the transaction at a bank and have an employee examine the bank check for authenticity. You should not under any circumstances release your vehicle and the title until the funds have cleared.

If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.