Sacramento police are reminding people to be cautious in vehicle sales or purchases involving private parties, noting that detectives have seen recent instances in which stolen vehicles were sold to unsuspecting buyers responding to online advertisements.
Detectives offer several tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
Print out the ad so you have evidence of the sale.
Meet the seller during normal business hours in a public place such as the local police department.
If you have the vehicle registration number -- the VIN -- and/or the license plate number, call the Sacramento Police Department's non-emergency phone number and ask whether the vehicle is listed as stolen.
Ask the seller for photo identification and compare the picture to the person you are dealing with in the transaction.
Make sure the seller has the title to the vehicle and that it belongs to the vehicle you are viewing. This can be done by comparing the VIN and license number on the vehicle to those on the title.
Make sure you receive a bill of sale and release of liability.
Watch the seller fill out the title, bill of sale and release of liability so you can see the seller sign the forms.
Remember, if the deal seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
Police urge anyone who has been a victim or has information regarding vehicle-related scams to call the dispatch center at (916) 264-5471 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357, or text a tip to 274637. Enter Sactip followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.