Newly married and in need of another car, a Dallas woman went online shopping for a new ride that ended up never showing up.
Now, Gillian Okeke wants to warn others about the dangers of big purchases online.
"I shop on ebay all the time," she said.
After a quick search on the Internet, Okeke thought she found a car that fit the bill.
"I saw this Toyota Seqouia, 2006, that was listed at about $3,000," she said.
Okeke thought it was a great deal and called the listed number. She received an email response from the seller and everything seemed to be checking out.
"She said, 'OK, if you're interested to move forward, Ebay motors is going to send you an email with the details of how it's going to work,'" Okeke said.
This email — with the eBay logo — asked for a specialized payment in the form of gift cards. Okeke went to the store, paid $3,000 and gave the card numbers to who she thought was eBay motors.
"I got an email saying payment has been verified, car will be shipped, it will take 48 hours," she said.
But the next day, Okeke received another email asking for more money for shipping insurance. She paid another $1,500 and waited two more days without hearing back.
"I went online and started researching for eBay motors number," she said. "They were like, 'No, you've been scammed, this is fraud, this is not from us.'"
Okeke immediately reached out to the gift card company hoping to freeze the cards, but they told her they wouldn't.
"They should have a plan to help people get their money back, because it's not fair that someone's going to lose $4,500 to fraud."
eBay sent the following statement:
"This incident was a scam as it did not take place on eBay Motors. Criminals often exploit well-known, trusted brand names like eBay to attract consumers and then lure them onto fake websites and into fraudulent transactions. We always encourage all our shoppers to be cautious when they aren't purchasing a vehicle directly through the eBay website. We provide tips for safe car shopping and warning signs to look out for scams on the eBay Motors Security Center page."
Our "responds tips" to consumers: Think of gift cards as cash. The FTC says the money on a gift card is hard to trace if something goes wrong.
When purchasing online, consult the website's policy or security page before making a purchase. Especially a big one.