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Buyer Beware: A Legal Guide to Using Swip Swap or Craigslist

We are frequently called because of bad internet purchases, rip offs, fraud and a host of other issues. Our common response is- we’ve heard it before and it’s not something we do. Simply put, the value of the dispute is often not something that warrants paying a lawyer’s fees and court costs. We hear of fewer and fewer lawyers getting involved in consumer protection and that truly stinks.

Most bad transactions can be handled in County Court, which handles disputes of under $15,000 in a lot more simplified, user friendly format. You can handle most disputes yourself and the judges are generally very friendly and helpful.

Here are some general areas of advice we frequently give related to recalled products, used automobile sales and using checks:

Recalled Products:

Every year, more than 400 manufacturers issue recalls on products. Yet, they still find their way into the second hand market via Cragislist, Swip Swap, eBay and others. Those items magically disappear from use. Be smart. Some products, from stoves to children’s seats, from tires to toys, could be on the recall list and dangerous for your child. It goes back to the old adage, buyer beware. Here is a FANTASTIC list with all of the search engines located on one link-

Recalled ItemsUsed Cars:

There is no lemon law for used cars in Florida. Before you buy any vehicle, it’s extremely important that you make sure you know exactly what you’re getting in the beginning, get it checked out and be savvy. Reconditioned cars bought at auctions, cars which have been nearly totaled or in natural catastrophes are big business. Worse yet, the vast number of shady characters in the used car industry have ruined it for the other dealers. As for private sellers, it is equally as risky.

The Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (HSMV) has prepared a helpful packet of information for anyone planning to buy a used car, whether from a dealer or an individual. It includes what to look for, what questions to ask the dealer, pricing, financing, what to notice when you inspect and test-drive the car, and warranties.

Be Careful with method of payment:

Although theft not only is a crime, but may entitled the victim to THREE times the damages sustained from the theft, scams involving checks take many forms. In a typical example, a thief either passes a bad check or, worse yet, sends a check made out for an amount higher than the selling price and requests that the seller deposit the check and return the difference via a wiring service (Money Gram, Western Union, etc.). After the seller has wired the money, he or she learns the buyer’s check is worthless, and the thief disappears with the seller’s money.

We recommend meeting the check writer at his or her bank and make sure it can be cashed then and there. Alternatively, you could wait three weeks for any sizable check to fully clear. Even if it looks like the funds are available in the bank account before that time, checks could still turn out to be counterfeit. Once you have the cash from the drawer’s bank, you’ve escaped liability in most instances.

Danger of “The Exchange”:

Meet in public places where members of the public can see you. A mall or in the parking lot of a police station may be best. Don’t go into someone’s house without seriously thinking twice. While robberies are very rare, they have happened and common sense and self-preservation needs to be part of any deal.

We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will consult with you personally.  John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and before the U.S. Supreme Court with passion and compassion. Our firm handles a wide variety of injury and death cases, criminal defense, family law and a host of high profile matters. We can be emailed at or call us at (904) 444-4444 in Florida or (912) 444-4444 in Georgia.