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Yesterday, I was scammed. This is a truly horrible feeling.
However, things could have been much worse. Here is the story.

We all know that my dear little Birdie, my very first car,
was totaled. So, on Sunday I was looking on Craig’s List for a new (albeit, used)
car. This is when I happened upon a little blue Kia Sephia. It had a nice
price, with relatively few miles, and no glaring problems. I had my dad look at
the ad, and then I called seller. Later that afternoon, I went to see the car
and gave it a test drive. I did not notice anything wrong with it, except that
it seemed like the brakes didn’t always want to work very well. Foolishly, I
failed to mention this to my father. It still seemed like a great car. We
bought it. On Monday, my dad picked it up and took it to the mechanic. This is
when we found out the brakes were indeed going bad. Additionally, we learned
that the car’s computer is completely dead. The mechanic fixed the brakes, but
not the computer. Therefore, the “check engine” light is always on and the fuel
gauge does not work. Fortunately, the car runs and shows no signs of breaking
down. So, the good news is: I have a new car! Yay!

Now, about the scam. 1) The problems with the car mean that
it was only worth half of what we paid. 2) The man told us he was selling the
car for his daughter and son-in-law. My dad checked: The people who own the
title are not related to the man who sold us the car. 3) The man also claimed
to be a notary public, so he notarized a Bill of Sale for us. His notary
license had actually expired. 4) The apartment building where we met the guy
was not actually where he lived. I have no idea where he really lives. 5) This
is the real kicker: The people who had owned the title to the car sold the car
to this guy just the day before for exactly what it was worth. They had no idea
he was going to turn around and sell the car for twice what he paid for it.

Seriously, I feel like an idiot. I was so anxious to have my
own car again that I just didn’t pay attention to what I needed in a car. I
didn’t inspect the little things (like how the stereo or the gear shift
worked), and I didn’t question the big things (like the brakes or the engine).
So, here’s my learned-the-hard-way advice about buying a used car.

  1. Make a very detailed list about what you need in
    your car. What can you absolutely not live without, like air conditioning or
    cruise control? What problems are inconsequential, like cosmetics or the number
    of seats? What things might cause problems that you might never consider
    becoming problems, like the engine or the brakes or the sparkplugs or anything?
    Get specific.
  2. Take your list with you whenever you decide to
    look at a car. Ask about each thing on your list. If you don’t get a straight
    answer, or if you get a bad answer, just walk away.
  3. If someone is asking for straight cash, WALK
    AWAY. Especially if someone denies a cashier’s check, this really should be a
    red flag.
  4. Give yourself options. Look at many different
    ads and make calls to several sellers before deciding which cars to look at.
    Find out exactly what is out there before making any decision.
  5. Don’t get hasty. There will always be people
    trying to grab up the “good deal” you are going after, but it is important to give
    yourself time to consider everything about your potential purchase. Remember,
    there will always be a good car waiting for you, so if someone else is trying
    to take one you aren’t 100% sure about: just let them have it.

There you have it, the highs and lows of my past few days. I
have learned a lot, and now I have a car to drive to work every day, but I will
definitely be looking up a few Bible verses about foolishness for the next few