A Texas single mother's excitement over the inexpensive used car she had just purchased through Craigslist quickly turned into horror after she realized it was a stolen vehicle.
Socorro Hernandez, a mother of four, was desperate for a new car after her minivan broke down, the Independent Journal Review reports.
She urgently needed a car to transport her wheelchair-confined daughter to doctor's appointments.
So when Hernandez found a large 2009 Honda Pilot for only $6,000 on Craigslist, she quickly paid in cash and eagerly awaited to get the title transferred.
It's no wonder -- KHOU reports such cars are usually sold for $20,000.
She soon learned the title papers were fake and the car had been stolen from a dealership lot.
“She worked hard, saved up all that money for nothing," said her older son, Pablo.
Luckily for Hernandez, the staff of the Infiniti dealership donated the car to the single mother.
“Technically, she bought the car," Billy Frank, the dealership manager, said. "It is the minimal thing we can do.”
Although Hernandez was lucky, experts are warning others to be careful when buying cars from sellers on Craigslist.
"It is one of the ever-growing number of scams that we see popping up," Hickman said. "Crooks are very innovative at ways to separate people from their money."
He advises people buy a Carfax report to verify the car's title is legitimate before handing over any money, adding buyers should always be suspicious of deals that seem too good to be true.
"The CARFAX report will give you a deeper, qualified look at the car you are interested in and will often verify or discredit information from the seller’s ad or conversation," explains Carfax on its blog.
Carfax also advises people meet sellers in busy public places during the day -- or better yet, where police are around.
"Meet at one of the recently established “safe exchange zones” that are popping up around the country," Carfax writes. "The zones are typically in police station parking lots and are under constant law enforcement surveillance. If the seller refuses to do business at the police station, you may have saved yourself from becoming the victim of an assault or robbery."