It does take a leap of faith to wire someone you don't know thousands of dollars for a car you have never seen in person, but there are a few things you can do to feel more comfortable about it, but primarily you need to trust your gut!
- Are you able to contact the person on the phone?
- Does he/she answer all your questions with reasonable answers and not something that sounds like BS?
- Do they sound like they are being honest with you?
- Do they sound uncomfortable speaking with you?
- Do you get a positive vibe from them?
- If he/she is on eBay, do they have a positive Feedback score with multiple (more than just 1 or 2) sales or purchases?
- Have they sold cars on eBay before?
- Are there high quality pictures of the entire car?
- Does it look like they are trying to hide somethings about the car? These days, it's easy to take very good photos with a cell phone, so if the pictures are blurry, or dark they are probably hiding something.
There are "escrow" services available, but my opinion is that they just shift the protection from the buyer to the seller and I won't accept them.
eBay also automatically offers both Seller and Buyer Protection, which I thinks helps, but I would never want to have to file a claim with them, because I expect it would be a nightmare. Read the fine print!
Again, in the end, your best protection is to not be naive and trust your gut!