Scammers post for sale ads in classified services such as Craigslist or AutoTrader, with a too-good-to-be-true price. Here is one example I found: 2005 Honda Accord.
"Email me for more details : firstname.lastname@example.org .The car is in a perfect cosmetic and engine conditions, and meticulously maintained. No damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects, never been into accidents and it is as advertised. Email me for more pictures at : email@example.com . I cannot get in touch with you if you use the "Email this Seller" option because my email address on autotrader is full so please e-mail me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org"The car is a real car--in the sense that they borrowed some photos and a VIN from somewhere, so if you run it through CarFax it will check out as a real vehicle.
If you respond, they send you a fake invoice from eBay Motors, along with a fake "Vehicle Purchase Protection" service email.
Here are examples, cick for larger view:
It isn't a perfect fake, but it may be convincing to someone who doesn't know much about eBay. The real eBay Motors does not operate an escrow service, and they explicitly don't allow MoneyGram payments! Also note the fake eBay email address, "email@example.com".
The scammers want you to send a non-traceable payment (MoneyGram, Western Union) to a "payment agent", who is probably some idiot who signed up for a "work at home" job "processing internet payments". That guy cashes the payment, and forwards it on to the scammers.
I tried to make contact with the scammer, but he was being very careful--he wouldn't give me a phone number. He stopped respoding to my emails after I pointed out that eBay doesn't allow Moneygram payments, and asked if he could take a PayPal payment instead.
Update: I am starting to see reports of this scam spreading out into Canada and the UK, using other services such as Moneybookers. The rules are the same. If the price is too good to be true (way below market) or the guy wants you to buy a car without being able to look at it, it's not real.