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Buying online: never let the seller finish the sale off of the main site

The BBB says sellers are claiming to make things "safer for you" by using a third party. Nope.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — You want to buy something online, don't we all these days, a big purchase like a used car, a computer, or a collector's item.

You know to use a platform that is well known such as Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, Poshmark. Each one of these has buyer protection if you don't get the item or something is wrong.

The problem is sellers are telling buyers to email them or text them on another site for some reason. When that happens, the site no longer protects your sale.

“This is nation-wide. The average person loses about $5,400 if they fall for this scam,” said Lechelle Yates of the Better Business Bureau.

This BBB conducted a study on Virtual Vehicle Vendor scams.

“You go to a well-known platform like eBay. You find the vehicle you want. And then the seller suggests making the deal better for you.  They really are trying to make us feel better and saying let's use this third-party escrow company. It's to protect you, they'll hold the money, they'll let you see the vehicle and if you accept it, then they'll pay the seller. It seems like a win-win for everybody, the problem is the third party escrow companies are fake, so is the vehicle. You never get the vehicle and all you've done is send money to a scammer,” said Yates.

The BBB says this scam is hitting eBay customers who think they're protected.

“You have to use the eBay platform for the entire sale. If you take any part of the sale off the eBay platform, eBay can't help you get your money back,” said Yates.

Scammers will try to give you some sort of story about why it's necessary to text another number or use another email. Don't buy the story--whatever it is.

And as with most scams, If the price is too good to be true-- it probably is.