Be cautious when purchasing vehicles on Craigslist

Please advise other college students!

Last Saturday, I purchased a car from a private owner that was listed on Craigslist.  The Secretary of State’s office was closed the following Monday for Columbus Day so I got up bright and early on Tuesday morning, I went to the SOS office and after waiting for over two hours, the title I presented to purchase my plates was confiscated and I was told plates could not be assigned because there was an “issue” with the title.

I was forced to leave the SOS office without the title indicating purchase of the car or plates that would entitle me to drive it.  Instead I was given a phone number to an investigator and the phone number to the branch manager.

Upon contacting the investigator for the State of Michigan, I am informed that the title does not scan to the car or VIN listed on the automobile.  I was told that the State of Michigan needed to impound the car at a rate of $30+ per day and that the investigation will take a minimum of 30 days to determine if it is a stolen car. The impound fee to do the investigation is $900 and I would be liable to pay it.  This is if it is found that the car is not stolen and there is no lien on it.  Otherwise, the car would be either (1) returned to its rightful owner if it is stolen, given to the insurance company who may have paid a claim  or sold at the police auction if none of the previously mentioned options are appropriate and I do not pay $900 for the impound fees.

I seek to advise other students that even with a bill-of-sale, an experienced mechanic to check out the vehicle, the seller handing over the title, the intention of avoiding any scam, witnesses of the transaction and even a Carfax that puts everything in place, something could still go very wrong and you will be left without your money or anything to show for it!

Sheila Reeves, President
Marygrove College Honors Program

“striving to be a competent, committed and compassionate leader”

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