Alexandria Police are investigating a scam where owners posting cars for sale on the OfferUp marketplace are having them stolen after being handed fraudulent checks.
The cars have since been found for sale by the suspects on OfferUp.
“The description of the suspect in both incidents is similar and the vehicles involved are identical,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.
On Nov. 4, a man reported to police that his 2018 Chevrolet Camaro was stolen. The man posted the car for sale for $23,000 on OfferUp and was contacted by the suspect, who was accompanied by a man in a white Audi A6 or A8 with DC tags, according to the affidavit.
The suspect handed over a check for $22,500 and drove away with the car. The man then took the check to the bank and they told him it was a fake. The man contacted police after finding his car being sold by the suspect on OfferUp, according to the affidavit.
On Nov. 5, a woman and her grandson reported to police that her 2014 BMW 535 was stolen. The woman allowed her grandson to post the car for sale for $14,700 on OfferUp, according to another affidavit.
The grandson met the suspect in the 4900 block of Seminary Road on Nov. 4. The suspect gave the man a check for $14,700 made out to his grandmother and then “quickly” drove away in the car, according to police.
The victim got suspicious and decided to follow the car.
“(The victim) was unable to do so because… other vehicles that appeared to be accompanying the suspect blocked his path and then proceeded to disregard a red light and hastily drove out of the area,” according to the affidavit. “The suspect was driving a white Chevrolet Camaro, and the other vehicles were an Audi A6 and a BMW 33 series with red rims.”
The grandmother was told it was a fake check when she took it to her bank. Police later found the car being sold by an account on OfferUp for approximately the same price she was asking before it was stolen.
Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine advises anyone selling their car to accept cashier’s checks and money orders, not personal checks.
“Be smart, be safe,” Ballantine said. “Only accept cashier’s checks and money orders, because that’s just cash.”