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What’s The Best Way To Spot A Scam Sale?

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Illustration for article titled Whats The Best Way To Spot A Scam Sale?

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing spotting online car scams and buying a car at the end of the lease.

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First up, what are some key clues to an online car scam?

“I was wondering if you’ve ever come across something like this before. I saw a listing for a 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser listed for sale for $2,100 on FB Marketplace. I reached out to the owner as per the instructions provided in the FB

It seems absolutely too good to be true. I’ve Googled the VIN and found three prior listings that seem a bit suspect.

My sense is that it is a scam because the prices for comparable vehicles easily reach 5 figures. At $2,100 most guys like me wouldn’t hesitate to spend that much on such a desirable vehicle without doing appropriate due diligence, so taking people’s money and failing to deliver a vehicle (or, the vehicle as advertised) would be pretty easy.

Should I go with my gut and just move on, or is it worth reaching out?”

The old saying about things that seem to be good to be true still stands. If your gut says it’s a scam it’s probably a scam. There are a few key pieces of information that should raise red flags when it comes to online listings. Generally speaking, if the price is drastically lower than similar cars on the market, there is something suspicious. Legit sellers aren’t going to leave money on the table. The fact that the ad looks like it was replicated from elsewhere is another flag.

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I would suggest you move on, but if you are absolutely curious to get the scoop I would contact the seller. Ask for a picture of the title and explain that you want to have it inspected by a local mechanic at your expense. See if they would be willing to take it somewhere. If they are trying to scam you, they probably won’t respond.

Next, does it ever make sense to buy the car at the end of the lease?

“When, if ever, does it make sense to buy out your car at the end of a lease? And, if so, any advice on how to negotiate a lower buyout?

My particular situation is a lease that’s ending on an Audi A4 that’s waaaay under mileage (thank you COVID19; like 24,000 miles of the 36,000) that I “paid for.” Turning the vehicle in feels like leaving money on the table.

Buying your car at the end of the lease could be a good way to go depending on a few variables. First, can you buy a similar car with similar miles on the market for less? If not then buying out your lease, which is essentially buying a used car, albeit one you took care of, could be the way to go. As for negotiating a lower buyout, some brands are more flexible on this than others. You would want to contact the leasing company to see what is possible.

Another option if you don’t want to keep your car but suspect you may have some equity is to get some offers on a trade-in from local dealers, or online outfits like Carvana and Vroom. They may offer a price that is greater than your lease buyout, giving you some cash to play with on your next purchase or lease.

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Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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