JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A scam uncovered by the News4Jax I-TEAM appears to be targeting users of the Nextdoor app, and the person behind it is claiming to be in the U.S. military.
Joe Honeycutt, a Nextdoor volunteer in Jacksonville responsible for verifying information, realized something wasn't right about an advertisement offering a 1998 Jeep Cherokee, so he posted a warning to inform users that it might be fake.
"I saw two ads on Nextdoor by two different people that had the exact same language," Honeycutt said.
The posts claimed to be selling the same vehicle for a relative. Both ads also wanted a buyer to send money through eBay, which Better Businesses Bureau President Tom Stephens says another red flag.
"That's the first tip off that it's a scam," Stephens said. "They want some weird payment arrangement."
According to Honeycutt, eBay will not complete a transaction unless the sale is done exclusively on its website.
Digging deeper, the I-TEAM learned the names of the people who supposedly posted the ad do not live in Florida. After emailing one of them, a person with a different name responded claiming to be an active member of the 345th Airlift out of Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.
The person, who also claimed to be a woman, said she was about to be deployed to Iraq. She also claimed the Air Force would pay for and arrange shipment of the SUV.
After contacting the base, a supervisor said there was no one listed there with that name. The I-TEAM was also told that the Air Force would never ship a vehicle for someone.
According to the Better Business Bureau, there was a previous scam involving the same pictured jeep, but the person claiming to sell it said they were in the Army and were about to be deployed to Afghanistan. It's also been used in scams on Craigslist.
The BBB worries that people who are either military supporters or active military members will fall victim to this ad.
"Scammers pick targets where there is an advantage," Stephens said. "They take advantage of any opportunity they can and being a military member makes you a target."