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San Rafael Police Department

San Rafael Police Department

For Immediate Release

Author: Lt. Dan Fink #447
Date: June 27, 2019 9:34 AM
Case Number: SR19-04621

Vehicle Purchase Scam Alert

On June 21, 2019 at about 9:00pm, the victim/buyer contacted the suspect/seller of the vehicle and agreed to meet in Canal area of San Rafael to look at the vehicle.  The victim test drove the vehicle (a Nissan Frontier) and negotiated the price down from $15,000 to $13,500.  The victim gave the seller $13,500 cash for the vehicle and the suspect gave the victim the vehicle and a signed California title.  On June 24, 2019, the victim went to the DMV to register the vehicle and was told that the license plate did not match the VIN and that he could not register it.  The victim attempted to contact the seller but discovered the phone was disconnected, so he contacted SRPD.

San Rafael Police Corporal James Bellamy conducted an investigation and learned that the license plate that was placed on the vehicle was actually from a Pontiac that was registered out of Stockton.  Corporal Bellamy was showed a picture of the vehicle by the victim and he recognized a sticker on the windshield as a Texas Registration Sticker.  The license plate number on the sticker was checked and he learned the vehicle was owned by the Hertz Rental Company and that it was possibly rented in Texas. 

Although the investigation is continuing into this case, at this point, it appears that the suspect (or someone associated with the suspect) rented the vehicle in Texas, placed a license plate on the vehicle from another vehicle, fraudulently made a title for that vehicle, and then placed it for sale on Craigslist.org. 

The San Rafael Police Department wants to publicize this case to warn the public about this scam and to ask if anyone else has been victimized by this scam to contact your local police jurisdiction. When buying anything from a person you don’t know, here are a few tips:

  • Trust your instincts
  • NEVER wire funds to a distant buyer, via Western Union or any other carrier
  • NEVER give out personal financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Always remember the most important rule — BUYER BEWARE

 If you have any information regarding this case, please call 415-485-3000

# # #

Posted: June 27, 2019 12:34 PDT by Lt. Dan Fink #447

Updated: June 28, 2019 6:54 PDT by Alex Holm

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