My Money Mistake: I Tried To Buy A Car From Facebook And Got Swindled

My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.


For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a software engineer living in Abuja. In 2021, he desperately wanted a car and fell victim to a popular Facebook marketplace car scam. He recounts his ordeal in a discussion with PiggyVest, and shares an important lesson he learnt from this experience.

Could you tell me your money mistake?

Hmm. It’s been a while now, but I’ll try to remember the details. But the long and short of it is that I wanted a car so badly in 2021 that I fell for one of those Facebook car scams.

Facebook marketplace car scam? What’s that?

Apparently, there are scammers on Facebook marketplace posing as customs officials trying to sell impounded cars at a cheap price. I’ve never been an avid Facebook user, so I didn’t know it was a thing at the time, and I fell for it big time.

How did you come in contact with them?

I was always looking online looking at cars, so I guess my search history affected the kind of ads I was seeing. One day, I opened Facebook and their ad showed up on my timeline. All the cars in the ad were deliciously cheap, it was like a dream. Getting a car was my biggest goal at the time, and in my friend group, I was the guy without a car. So, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity.

What happened then?

I contacted them, called the number on the ad and started inquiring about a Toyota 2004 aka Big Daddy. They told me it was available at a giveaway price of ₦1 million.

₦1 million? Red flag!

When you’re desperate, all flags are green. That’s how they lured me in. I could raise 1 million easily at the time, so I asked the man what it would take. He said they would need to clear the car from the port and then ship it from Ibadan to Abuja, where I lived. Then if I was satisfied, I could pay for the car.

That easy?

I had to pay the clearance fee first.

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And how much was that?

₦60,000. Something to do with collecting the car papers for ease of transport.

Hmm. So you paid?

Of course. What is ₦60,000 in the grand scheme of things?

Indeed. And after paying?

They told me it would take about three working days. When the time elapsed I contacted them again. They said they had gotten the car cleared and would need me to pay for its delivery to Abuja.

Another money?

Exactly. That was when the alarm in my head started to ring. I told him to bring the car first, and if I was satisfied, I would pay everything in full. But that was when his tone changed. He started to get upset, saying things like, “You’re not ready. I’m trying to help you out and you’re giving me conditions.” I even noticed that the photo of the car they “cleared” from the port was not the same as the one he showed me initially.

Yikes. 

I immediately clocked that I had messed up. I didn’t even respond further. I just went to my contacts and deleted his numbers. I wiped our chats on all platforms and mourned my ₦60,000 in the silence of my house. 

Did he reach out to you again?

Why would he? I was the perfect candidate. Why ruin a good thing? [Laughs].

[Laughs]. Well I’m glad you can laugh about it now. What lesson did you learn from this experience?

Quite simple. Any vendor that is selling anything for a significantly lower price than the market value is a scammer. And nobody can convince me otherwise.

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