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Technical Buyer wants to see the title, is this a scam?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by poboyross, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. poboyross
    Joined: Apr 29, 2009
    Posts: 2,142

    from West TN

    I have a potential buyer who seems legitimate, but wants me to send him an image of the title. He claims he bought a car once where the owner didn't have the title after money had changed hands and the car had arrived at his house. He claims he went through a rigmarole to get a copy after the fact. While that alone sends up red flags for me, I try to not be 100% paranoid. I have Photoshop, so is there a way to watermark and/or block out parts of the info and safely send an image to the potential buyer?

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  2. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,857


    Send a copy with the VIN blocked out.
    kiwijeff, HiHelix, MightyTim and 2 others like this.
  3. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 18,126


    Asking for proof that you have an actual title is not unusual.

    I would physically cover the VIN section (writing COPY on the pieces of paper you cut to cover with), as well as your address, leaving just your name, and the remainder of the information, take a photograph, and send that.

    If you send a *.PSD, it contains the layer information, and can be unmasked.
  4. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,054

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    I'd tell him no way will you send him a copy of the title.
    Tell him that when he shows up with money or produces money to buy the car then you will meet with him and sign over the title.
    Do not send a copy, he will take your word that you have it if he is serious about buying.
    If not, tell him to walk.

  5. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,601


    I once did a long distance buy. A '50 F1. He was in Cal, I was in Iowa.
    I asked for a email picture of the title.
    He had no problem with sending it.
    Deal made.....truck bought.
    Worked for me! :)
  6. uncleandy 65
    Joined: Jan 14, 2013
    Posts: 3,570

    uncleandy 65

    I don't know how you do business in Canada. But in Indiana if I travel to buy a car there better be a title if he tells me he has one. I have heard of to many stories of sellers having trouble finding the title once you arrive to buy the automobile. I can't blame the buyer to ask about the title. Once you arrive at the sellers place and all of sudden he can't find the title, what do you then????
    tudorfritz, scruff, 55hdyman and 2 others like this.
  7. You can physically cover the information mentioned and then use photo shop to water mark it if you want.

    the joke is that even if you show him that you have the title that does not mean number one that it is for the same car and number two that you are going to deliver it to him.

    If he is that worried have him send an appraiser over to look at the car. the appraiser can confirm that yes there is a title for the car while he is there.
    bchctybob, 55hdyman, kbgreen and 3 others like this.
  8. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,060

    from California

    did he ask anything else? an old out dated title in someone elses name is just about as worthless as no title at all, at least here in California. I'd be less suspicious if he had asked if the title were in your name, and if the car is currently registered. then asked for a photo... even then, I would block out the vin, or just be sneaky and change the number.

    on Ebay listings for complete cars the vin # is in every ad. I'd say you really only have to worry about it if the car is no longer registered. I bought a model T in parts that came with a California title for a Model A. it was on non-op status and a good title. I sold it to a guy who had a complete, original Model A roadster who said his vin number was already in use and he could not register the car!
  9. One lesson I learned never buy something big without personally looking at it. And check that the title matches the VIN and don't have any liens.
  10. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,901


    Is he coming to pick up the car or is the car being shipped to him and the purchase being done long distance with a bank transfer? If long distance I can see why he wants to see a picture of the title. Do as said above, cover the vin and your address, write COPY on a narrow slip of paper and lay it across the title and take a picture.
  11. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 18,126


    While that is totally on him, that practice is entirely against the law.
    1927graham likes this.
  12. I wouldn't have any problem sending a copy. Block out enough info that they wouldn't be able to 'reconstuct' what's missing (like any 'state use only' numbers) and block out the last 5 or 6 digits in the VIN (the actual unit serial number). That's enough to show you have the vehicle and enough of the VIN to show it's the right vehicle....
    lurker mick likes this.
  13. I always request a copy of title when buying long distance, and I always provide one if selling. I've never had any issues.
    55styleliner and Hnstray like this.
  14. I recently sold a '57 TBird. Once I got down to a serious buyer I sent him a photo of the title and the "non-op" certificate and a photo of the VIN plate on the car. There is a lot of room between "of course I have the title and it matches the VIN plate" and a good picture. If I was in the buyers shoes I would want copies/photos before I drove very far. If I could't get a copy of the title and VIN plate I would probably just pass unless the seller was within 10 miles.

    Charlie Stephens
    Lebowski and 54vicky like this.
  15. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,060

    from California

    so is registering a car with a made up vin, buying cars and reselling without registering them, cutting the month sticker off an old license plate and gluing it on the plate of another car you will be selling without registering so the cops don't pull you over, driving with a suspended license, lying to the DMV about how much you paid for a car to save on registration.... on and on. that was not the first DMV rule I broke. now that I am old, I'm pretty legal now it is harder to play the game, and they will impound your car for such things.
    54vicky likes this.
  16. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,099


    Why would anyone want to buy a car that is said to have a title and not have actual proof that it does indeed have a title and the correct title?
    I understand the idea that you are spooked because you feel that the guy might being to try to scam the vin number or even title number but covering up the middle numbers of the vin leaving the first letter or number and the last three or four and doing the same with the vin on the rig to show that they match and explaining why you did it that way should suffice. Or letting them send a third party to verify the vin and the title.. Safety in a transaction works both ways and if you are trying to work around that safety level you are the scammer rather than the potential buyer.
  17. CraigR
    Joined: Jun 20, 2008
    Posts: 375

    from California

    Not a scam, a buyer doing his due diligence. I do pre purchase inspections for overseas buyers, deal everyday with wary buyers & sellers. I have personally made this same request on behalf of buyers, photographed titles with vins as part of inspection many times, no problem.
    I have heard of people using a VIN to fraudulently apply for insurance or titles, but they've never obtained that info by asking the owner of the vehicle for it, always by more surreptitious means. So basically use your best judgement, you don't want to broadcast your VIN, but you need to help a genuine potential buyer, not scare him off.
    If 'send me a pic of the title' is the very first question, then yeah, i'd be wary. If he asks if you have a title, amongst other relevant questions, then requests a bunch of photos of the vehicle including specific areas of interest (rust, blems, modifications) as well as a pic of the title he sounds more genuine and trustworthy.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
    Asphalt Angel and Hnstray like this.
  18. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 4,189

    rusty rocket

    I sold my 51 merc to a buyer in New Zealand, I covered the vin and my address with a small piece of paper, took a picture and emailed it to him. He was happy with that and the deal was done.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
    mrquickwhip likes this.
  19. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 18,126


    All of that is how you get threads deleted on this board, at least, and get new laws passed restricting our hobby, at worst.
    Hnstray likes this.
  20. poboyross
    Joined: Apr 29, 2009
    Posts: 2,142

    from West TN

    He's given me all his personal info, we had a good talk, and I usually have. Sry good radar on that front. He has a place here in San Diego but lives with his wife close to her folks in FL. He would have a friend here come with the cash on the pickup date, and offered a good hold fee prior to pickup. I feel better about it now. Coupled with the advice of blocking out some info, I think I feel better about sending a photo of the title now.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    crminal and bobwop like this.
  21. drttrkcwby
    Joined: Dec 12, 2016
    Posts: 52


    I just sold a car to a guy in New York. I told him I didn't have a title but had some paperwork that if he wanted to fight the battle the Californians he could probably get one. I sent him emailed pics of all documents I had. He said those will work and I shipped the car to him.
    On another note, I bought and the guy said he had the title but he couldn't remember the code to his safe. So I told him let's take it to a locksmith and he said ok. We got the cheapie safe open and BAM! No title. I was hosed, I made him apply for the lost title and he ended up getting it and then I received it. Never again will I buy a car without seeing a title first! I agree with lots of the fellas on here, send the pics but block out your info. Be worried if he asks you to uncover it.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    tinsled and Hnstray like this.
  22. poboyross
    Joined: Apr 29, 2009
    Posts: 2,142

    from West TN

    He asked a ton of questions, and the title one was close to the end. I understand his trepidation as well. I just want us all to be protected. I posted a lot of pics on my ad, so he didn't request any more. His friend would do the last visual inspection on pickup.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  23. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,660

    Bandit Billy

    I recently sold a car to a guy in Florida and I live in Washington, you cant get further apart and still be in the lower 48. Anyhoo, he was a legit buyer who wanted a copy of the title, needed to run PHS on the VIN. Point is he was legit and vetted by several people I know as a reputable dealer.

    Did the same thing on an Indy 500 pace truck I sold to our neighbors up north, never an issue

    But understand, I do not fault you for your concern,
    "the second you turn your head you will get blindsided" - Ima Cynic.
    54vicky likes this.
  24. skipperman
    Joined: Dec 24, 2002
    Posts: 1,837


    COPY THE TITLE ...... then it will have "VOID" all over it .... send THE COPY to him ...... block out whatever you think is necessary.... I do it the ALL THE TIME ( collector car lot ) without blocking anything .... a title with the "VOID" on it is WORTHLESS .....
    54vicky, tinsled, bobwop and 5 others like this.
  25. This seems like the smart way to do it. HRP
    poboyross likes this.
  26. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    That was a FINE serial number! Just xerox title with your thumb blocking the middle of the number...he can then see it has reasonable prefix and is right length. Same approach with number on frame. He can then see whole thing and verify by eyeball when he picks it up, right before he forks over the cash.
  27. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    Asking to see the title before a purchase is not an unusual request. I wouldn't buy a car if I didn't see the title and ascertain it matched the VIN on the car.

    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
    54vicky, tinsled and bobwop like this.
  28. fms427
    Joined: Nov 17, 2006
    Posts: 864


    A very common request - write "void" on it if you feel better - but a copy not really legal...

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  29. I bought a OT Dodge truck, seller said he had title and right after I handed over the money he brought out a Oregon title, and I am in California. The title was good, but it became a pain in the ass as California now wanted state transfer info and weight slip,,,,,,
  30. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,729

    from Colorado

    I've run into another reason that a buyer wants the title is to insure the vehicle before it is transported to the new buyer.
    kiwijeff and Greaser Bob like this.

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