We are currently looking for a horse trailer and don’t have a lot of money to spend. In the process of looking for a cheap used one, we had this experience:
Contacted someone selling a horse trailer on Craiglist. We were told that there were other buyers who were interested in buying the trailer at a higher price than the selling price, but that the seller would hold the trailer for us if we put down a deposit. We told them to sell it if they could get a higher price, but let us know if they still wanted to sell to us. We haven’t heard back since.
Asking for a deposit seemed like a possible scam, so we were curious about whether this happens a lot. Apparently, it does. Over 7 million hits came back on a Google search of “horse trailer scams.”
We read over a number of these scams. Some were a little more elaborate than the one we may have come across, but the idea is basically the same: Someone puts up an ad on eBay, Craigslist or another site for a fairly decent or very nice trailer at a low price.
When the interested party inquires about the trailer, they are often given a story about how the trailer needs to be sold quickly: Perhaps because a loved one is overseas and isn’t using it, or perhaps because the person’s husband or wife who had the trailer died and the spouse no longer needs it. Or, the scammer might double down and go with a death in the family and an overseas move to explain the necessity of a quick sale of a trailer at a bargain price. Often the “seller” uses a military title to inspire trust in the possible buyer.
Usually the trailer is in some location where it can’t be viewed other than by photo(s) by the potential buyer. At least that’s the story. There most likely is no trailer and the photos are probably copied from some other ad or location on the Internet.
Finally, the seller wants the money in advance, often electronically, and promises to ship the trailer to the buyer for free as well as to give a full refund if the seller is unhappy.
Of course, the scammer is hoping to get the money and no trailer will ever show up on the buyer’s end. The buyer will be out the money and out of luck.
If you, like us, are looking for a horse trailer, be wary of the following:
- Someone asking for money in advance, especially if you haven’t seen the actual trailer.
- Photos that look glossy, as if they are from professional advertisements and not regular photos you would see someone taking with a regular cell phone camera to post an online ad. Photos in which the license plate of the trailer or truck pulling the trailer is Photoshopped out. Other pictures that seem suspicious.
- Stories about the trailer being in another state or city currently with the need to be shipped to where you live if you buy it.
- The buyer offering you sad back stories involving a death in his or her family or other tragic reason for selling their trailer, particularly if you didn’t ask for any such information.
For more signs to watch out for, check out: https://barrelhorseworld.com/fraud.asp
If you suspect an ad is a scam, you can also report it to the site it is posted on. You can also contact the following:
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center
- FTC complaint form and hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- Consumer Sentinel/Military (for armed service members and families)
Have you been scammed like this or has someone attempted to pull this type of scam when you were looking for a horse trailer? Let us know in the comments section.