Buying used car parts through automotive forums can be a great way to buy parts you couldn’t afford otherwise. Case in point – the elusive BBS LM wheels, my favorite wheels of all time. The BBS LMs cost $1179.00 a piece on VividRacing, which is one of the best prices I can find anywhere. That adds up to a mind boggling $4,716.00 for the set, and then you still need tires. I’ve wanted these wheels since I was a kid, and always have an eye out for a used set at a price I can afford.
Low and behold, my dream wheels get posted on VWVortex 5×112 Classifieds the other day for $2,000. Over half off new! I’ve seen them fetch between $2,500-3000, so I thought this was going to be a great deal. And sure enough – it was too good to be true. This guy was a pure con-artist who actually came very close to nabbing my money.
Here’s how it worked:
He registers as S4U on VWvortex and posts these wheels in the classifieds section here: http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?4946047-BBS-LM-Wheels-19X8.5-(32mm)
He claims to prefer “local buyers” – this turns out to be a complete lie, but it makes him look like he wouldn’t be afraid to meet face to face and provides a good cover story/alibi. Several local NYCers indeed contact him that are very interested – he ignores all of their messages
I happen to see his post – I’m in Arizona but I want these wheels bad enough I contact him anyway and offer to pay shipping. He responds immediately and calls me several times throughout the day. Things start moving quickly. We settle on a price of $1850 after chatting on the phone.
He wants the money sent via WesternUnion or MoneyGram – RED ALERT! He claims he no longer has a PayPal Account & was planning on selling these local for cash, so he wasn’t sure on how to accept money otherwise. A somewhat believable story, as he did say he preferred local buyers and is going out of his way to ship to me. I read up on WesternUnion & Moneygram and it is very clear sending money through these services is a very bad idea. Hell, even WesternUnion says not to send money through WesternUnion for online purchases when you don’t know the seller…
I offer to pay half up front, and half when I get them. I ask him to send a picture proving he owns them, with him holding a card with his name and the date. I don’t want to let go of this great deal, even though I have a bad feeling about it – maybe we can still make it work?? But then the picture he sends looks off – there are BMW center caps, the wheels have a much deeper dish, and something seems fishy. I start to really get freaked out.
versus the original pic he sent of the wheels:
Looking at the “evidence” pic he sent now, it’s clear they are replicas and not real BBS LMs anyway – the valve stem is black plastic versus metal, BBS is not stamped on the face and around the lug nuts, the finish doesn’t look right and obviously the center caps missing are all signs of replicas. The lips are also way bigger in the picture he sent to me, indicating they’re probably staggered fitment for a BMW.
I then google every bit of information I have about him. His name, Rishi Bachew, turns up nothing (could have been a fake name). I google his phone number, 347-387-9658 but nothing really comes up. His email address, email@example.com – turns up several results of other items he’s tried to sell. It also turned up this post: http://www.pandahi.com/US/1000116833.html which reads:
urgentt job wanted by 20 year old male
WHATS UP GUYS I’M LOOKING FOR A JOB I’M 20 YEARS OF AGE AND IS LOOKING FOR A JOB EITHER IN QUEENS OR AROUND THE BOROUGH I CAN TRAVEL MY WAY AROUND SO THAT WONT BE ANY PROBLEM GETTING TO WHERE EVER I’M LOOKING FOR A JOB EITHER HELPING SOMEONE I CAN WORK CONSTRUCTION, MOVING ECT!!! I’M VERY FRIENDLY/PRODUCTIVE IF YOU HAVE A JOB AVAILABLE OR KNOWS SOMEONE HELP ME OUT WILLING TO START ASAP!!!! email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you have something or may know someone! thanks
I google the post title, “urgentt job wanted by 20 year old male” and find many duplicate postings. Many of the posts on other automotive boards are under the alias SOFLY00. I google “SOFLY00” and bingo – tons of threads about him scamming. I even find the same wheels posted elsewhere in other threads dating back 7 months ago! As far as I can tell, SOFLY00 has been accused of fraud on at least a half dozen automotive boards for trying to sell wheels. In each case, he pretends he’s only interested in local buyers, and then when the person from afar contacts him, he pretends like he was planning on accepting cash and that’s why he doesn’t have paypal and can only accept WesternUnion or Moneygram. He seems to be using new aliases now, but the threads will always be from New York City/Queens, a newly registered poster, horrible english & grammar (soldddddd), and claim to prefer local buyers.
Here is all of the evidence on SOFLY00 I could find:
- Here he is listing the same wheels on S4forum in December, 2009: http://s4forum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1893
- and then again here (November, 2009, again, same wheels) http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum…php?p=17988708
- User was banned/terminated on Audizine around this same time… http://www.audizine.com/forum/member.php/51136-SOFLY00
- This thread says SOFLY00 never does local pickup,he just say he does as part of the scam to make buyers feel more comfortable (Dec 2009) http://forums.nicoclub.com/09-maxima…p-t466746.html
- And another one for G37 wheels (Nov 2009) – http://forums.nicoclub.com/infiniti-…s-t464464.html
- And this thread is pretty crazy – 24 pages of him getting flamed for scaming (Nov 2009): http://www.the370z.com/parts-sale-pr…-tires-22.html
- Here is a thread where he’s asking others to photoshop his name into pictures to assist him with scamming! http://www.b20vtec.com/forums/b20vtec-com-general-forum/368399-photo-shop-helppp-asap.html
- And the rest of the SOFLY00 Chronicles per Google: http://www.google.com/search?sourcei…TF-8&q=SOFLY00
I also enlisted a friend to determine if the picture he sent me with his name and today’s date was altered or photoshopped at all – and if definitely was. Check out these pictures, as well as this analysis that also indicates some form of tampering: http://www.errorlevelanalysis.com/permalink/bad7a85/
But the best part of all – I found his audition profile for MTV’s NextOrNot – AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA
WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT BUYING USED PARTS THROUGH ONLINE CLASSIFIEDS & AUTOMOTIVE FORUMS
- Never, ever, EVER! pay with WesternUnion, MoneyGram, or Money Order if you do not know the person. Always insist on PayPal – they have purchase protection, and scammers will not use it.
- Always google the crap out of every bit of information the seller gives you – their email address, phone number, name, home address, anything they can give you.
- No matter how much evidence they give you, such as pictures claiming they own the wheels, willingness to meet locals, etc., always be skeptical. All of this “evidence” can be faked.
- If it’s a smoking deal, that’s another reason to doubt the legitimacy of it.
- Only buy from sellers that can provide references. Many forums like Audizine have a classifieds systems with a feedback mechanism built in, so I can see that the seller has sold other parts to other buyers and the transaction went well. For instance, here is my Audizine classifieds feedback: http://www.audizine.com/classifieds/member.php?uid=8598&ppaction=readfeed
That being said, I wont’ stop buying parts from automotive forums & online classifieds altogether, I’ll just be sure to use even more caution, only buy from trusted sellers via PayPal or in person, and always be on guard for the next scammer. In hindsight, SOFLY00 had some pretty clever moves and could have fooled anyone, I just got lucky and did my homework to uncover some nasty results on Google.
Postscript: Since writing this post, at least four others have chimed in the comments below with similiar dealings with this person, Rishi Bachew in Jamaica/Queens, New York (NYC). He is a thief and scum-bag who posts highly sought after wheels for cheap yet semi-believable prices. Thank you to everyone who has chimed in the comments, and I am so incredibly happy to have helped out a few enthusiasts along the way who may have otherwise been scammed by Rishi Bachew.