scamHer name is allegedly Maria or Marie Murrend.  Her email is mariemurrend65@gmail.com.   Her cell phone/text number is 210-819-4320.   Although she also uses 307-248-5809 and  740-738-2890.   No matter the number, Marie is a scammer.   She scans through AutoTrader and Car.com ads looking for scam victim.  Her tool of choice:  Paypal.     Her name changes almost monthly…..it could be a guy or a woman.  However, beware of Marie and her scammer friends because they can rip you off big-time.

It starts with a text responding to your auto sales ad; she asks for pictures of the car’s engine.   She gives you her email address and invites you to send the pictures.    Your first mistake is that you respond…..but that’s an understandable mistake.    She then sends you a message that looks something like this:

Thanks for the mail. I am interested in buying the vehicle and I hope
everything is in perfect condition. I’m ready to pay your asking price
but not cash in person because I’m currently in a conference and calls
are restricted at the moment and my only quickest payment option is
PayPal, its safe fast and secure and i will be responsible for the
PayPal transaction charges so you can get your expected amount. If you
don’t have an account with PayPal, its pretty easy to open one,Just
log onto www.paypal.com and sign up. I hope we can make the purchase
as fast as possible? As I am buying it for my dad and I’m pretty very
sure he will love it, he’s an handy man, so if there is anything that
need to be fixed in it just let me know he will handle it. I have a
mover that will come for the pick up once payment clears in your
account and he will handle the documentations and changing of
ownership on my behalf.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you with
the information below so that I can make the payment this morning as
soon as possible.
Your PayPal e-Mail Address :
Full name:
Zip code for pickup:
Firm Price:
Maria

Your second big mistake is that you respond to her and give her a PayPal account that you set up.    She’ll claim to make a deposit to it and you’ll get a “receipt” from PayPal verifying the payment.   But is was never made.  The receipt is a fake.   Or, she’ll make a payment with a bad check and, once PayPal catches on, it’ll cancel the transaction.   Meanwhile, she’s got your car and title has already been transferred, so will you likely never get the car back without filing a lawsuit.     Don’t take our word for it,  AutoTrader is warning its customers to never sell their car using PayPal.    Just do a search for Marie’s name and you’ll find hundreds of stories about people who got similar pitches from similar scammers seeking similar high-end goods like cars and furniture.     Marie and her friends appear to be very busy and they’ve been running this racket for a few years, now.    Don’t get ensnared in Marie’s scammy web.    If you are selling a car or any kind of expensive household good,  require that an interested buyer always meets you and views the vehicle in person.  Never hand over the vehicle keys until your bank has confirmed the full value of the vehicle has cleared into your bank account.

There are two ways in which the PayPal scam works.  First, the buyer claims he can only pay via PayPal. Don’t have a PayPal account? No problem, he says. He’ll send you an email with a link so you can set one up. But the link likely will send you to a fake PayPal site where your bank info will be outright stolen.  Second probability; the buyer sends you real money through a real PayPal account, and you ship him the car. Then you find out that the account belongs to someone else.   You have to return the money to them and you’ve lost your car.   And remember, PayPal’s Seller Protection doesn’t apply to items picked up locally or in person. To qualify for Seller Protection, whatever you’re selling must be a physical, tangible item that can be shipped and you must ship to the address on the Transaction Details page — and you must have proof of shipment.  If you’ve been scammed, contact PayPal and ask them to open an investigation, and then file a complaint with the FTC and your local police department.

Finally, here’s what AutoTrader had to say about the Marie/Maria’s message, posted above:

The message you provided us is a fraudulent response by a group of known scam artists overseas.  They have an automated system set up to send out a Text message and/or emails to anyone that lists items online (vehicles and other items across various sites).  The scam is a variation on the Certified Check scam seen years ago.  They’ve updated the scam to include online payment systems now.  In this case they would send a fake payment notification claiming to be from Paypal, and Paypal would not only falsely confirm that the money was transferred, but it would advise you to wire the shipping or other fee to a fake company set up.  In the case of vehicles listed online the emails would say “The Vehicle” and be non-specific, just as if you listed another item online (such as a computer or furniture set) the emails would say “The Item”, because this is an automated system being used.  They have been reported to law enforcement and the information you’ve sent us has been forwarded to those authorities as well.  They use this information to narrow their searches down when tracking their activity.