Man warns of car scam after video shows men tampering with vehicle

Carlos Granda Image
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Corona man warning others after being scammed while selling car
A Corona man who recently sold his car is dealing with a sour situation. The buyers were caught on camera messing with his vehicle and made him think he was selling a lemon. Authorities think there might be more victims of this scam.

CORONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Surveillance video shows three men as they check out Art Hernandez's car.

The three men came to Hernandez's home after responding to his ad on Craigslist. Hernandez says he opened the front hood, and that's when one man told him to go to the back of the car. That's when the two men in the front started sabotaging the vehicle, according to Hernandez.

"I feel like an idiot," he said. "I feel truly scammed. I never thought this could happen to me."

Hernandez says video shows one of the suspects tampering with a cable.

"You can see him clearly reaching into the engine compartment and disconnected one of the sensors, something electronic. That's what drew the check engine light on my car and made it run like heck," Hernandez said.

Hernandez says they also poured oil on the engine, and it started smoking. You can see the oil still on the ground.

"Within seconds you can see oil dripping from the bottom of the car," said Hernandez, who felt confused at the time, and the men kept pressuring him.

They offered him $400 to buy the car, and he agreed. But he felt something just wasn't right, so he looked at his surveillance video and saw what had happened, realizing they'd damaged the car to get a lower price.

The original Craigslist post was only for the Inland Empire, but Hernandez says he paid extra and duplicated the post in Orange, L.A., and San Diego counties. He started getting calls from others who say they were scammed by the same men.

"My phone started ringing off the hook in my phone it's like hey I'm sorry this happened to you, but this happened to me and these are the exact same people," says Hernandez.

Hernandez reported it to the police and showed us the report. Police told him it would be considered a felony. He wants to get the word out so that no one else becomes a victim.

"Be careful. I thought I could do this on my own," he said. "Have someone with you. I have someone else with each person that is here to see the car."