Colorado Man Accidentally Buys a Stolen Car From Facebook Marketplace

If you’re looking to buy a used car, then Facebook Marketplace is a great tool to use. Every day, sellers post used cars for sale all over the country, most of them are legit while others are an outright scam. However, one Colorado native recently purchased a used car from Facebook Marketplace thinking it was legit, but unfortunately, it turned out to be stolen.

The Fort Collins man scoured Facebook Marketplace and found a Toyota Yaris

In this photo illustration, the Facebook logo is reflected in the eye of a girl on February 3, 2008, in London, England.
In this photo illustration, the Facebook logo is reflected in the eye of a girl on February 3, 2008, in London, England. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

RELATED: Is Selling Your Car on Facebook Marketplace a Good Idea?

Cody Kneipp, from Fort Collins, Colo., scoured Facebook Marketplace for the perfect commuter car. According to the Coloradoan, Kneipp had to close his business, “Lair of Abraxas” last year. Unfortunately, the hookah bar and tea room didn’t make it due to COVID-19 restrictions, which forced Kneipp to make ends meet by working for DoorDash and Grubhub.

Since he didn’t have a car, Kneipp borrowed cars from family and friends to make his deliveries. But in November, he had finally scraped together enough cash to purchase a fuel-efficient commuter car that was perfect for his jobs – a 2010 Toyota Yaris. Upon finding the vehicle, he reached out to the seller on Facebook Marketplace who went by the name of “Yoni,” but suspiciously went by another name in real life.

The Yaris checked out OK, but a “very unfortunate series of events” was yet to unfold

 A 2007 Toyota Yaris is on display at the South Florida International Auto Show in Miami Beach on 13 October 2006.
A 2007 Toyota Yaris is on display at the South Florida International Auto Show in Miami Beach on 13 October 2006. | ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

The seller said that he lived in Aurora, so the two decided to meet halfway in Thornton. Upon meeting, Kneipp reported that he didn’t detect anything wrong with the Yaris – other than a couple of dents. What made the deal seem even more legit was that the seller had the original key for the car including a clean title in hand. Upon agreeing to the $3,500 selling price, Kneipp and the seller headed to the bank to exchange the money and the title.

The next day, on November 30th, Kneipp verified the car’s VIN and got an emissions test done. But when he went to the DMV the following week to get it registered, that’s when the worst unfolded.

“It was a very unfortunate series of events,” Kneipp told the Coloradoan.

When the DMV clerk pulled up the car in its system, it came back as being stolen. The clerk at the DMV office said that it’s possible that the car may have been stolen and found at one point, but the history report was never updated. Kneipp then decided to investigate the issue further by taking the car to the Larimer County Sheriff’s office to check if it was stolen.

Unfortunately, it had been. The Coloradoan reports that the original owners, who lived in Aurora, had left the title and the extra key in the glove box while on vacation. The car was inevitably stolen and sold on Facebook Marketplace.

Upon finding out this unfortunate news, Kneipp turned the car over to the sheriff’s office so that it could be returned to the original owner. What’s even more unfortunate, is that Kneipp is now out of the $3,500 that he worked so hard to save up and is now out of a car.

The fortunate part of this story is that Kneipp set up a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise the $3,500 that he lost. As of this writing, the donation total is at $3,850, thanks to some caring donators during this holiday season.

Here are some quick tips to avoid getting scammed on Facebook Marketplace

Pete Argumaniz, a pre-owned car salesman, checks the VIN number on a pre-owned car at Classic Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Arlington, Texas, Friday, December 12, 2008.
Pete Argumaniz, a pre-owned car salesman, checks the VIN number on a pre-owned car at Classic Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Arlington, Texas, Friday, December 12, 2008. | Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

If you’re planning to peruse the classified ads on Facebook Marketplace, here are some quick tips to avoid getting scammed:

  • Ask for the car’s VIN to see if it matches with the pictures and description on the Facebook ad
  • NEVER send money to the seller before seeing the car in person
  • Complete the monetary transaction at a bank, DMV, or police station
  • Ensure that all of documents needed for the title transfer are correct
  • Bring a friend or family member with you to see the car
  • Meet the seller in a well-lit area. A police station will work well.

If you think that you may have been scammed by a Facebook Marketplace seller, then contact your local law enforcement. If you want to make sure that the car you’re buying is legit, then you can also have the VIN verified with them as well.

Facebook Marketplace is still a good tool for buying and selling used cars, but buyers and sellers should remain vigilant when doing so.

RELATED: The 2008 Toyota Yaris Is a Must-Avoid Vehicle