Dealership gives mom free car after Craigslist scam

HOUSTON – It was an emotional moment for a mother of three and her family, after she learned the sheriff and a dealership have teamed up to give her a car.

But this is the end of the story. The beginning isn't so happy.

She initially bought a car herself, online, but it turns out, that was a scam.

People go online every day to sites like Craigslist looking for a good deal, but investigators are warning buyers that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

"Truly on behalf of everyone here at Clear Lake Infiniti, I'd like to present you with the title of the vehicle," Billy Frank, with the dealership, said.

Socorro Hernandez and her three kids are getting a big break. The scam could have put a devastating dent in their savings.

Socorro said she felt horrible after she saved thousands to buy her family a 2009 Honda, only to later learn the SUV was stolen.

"I wouldn't want nobody to go through what she went through," Pablo, her son, said.

Pablo said his mom spotted the car for sale on Craigslist, thought it would be spacious enough for her wheelchair-bound daughter and then decided to buy it for $6,000.

The single mom thought she had a great deal, considering the car is worth nearly $20,000.

"She works very hard ya' know, she works cleaning houses," Pablo said.

When Socorro went to title the Honda, she learned it was stolen from the Clear Lake Infiniti dealership.

The dealer believes it was taken by a vendor who was supposed to detail the SUV, but never returned it.

"She saved up all that money just for nothing," Pablo said.

At least, that's what the family thought, until today, when the dealership presented Socorro with the keys.

"Technically, she bought the car and we feel like if we can make a right out of this wrong it's the minimal thing we can do," Frank said.

"I'm thankful for them because they're really helping her, or helping all of us," Pablo said.

If you're buying a car from a site like Craigslist, investigators have a few tips:

  • Make sure the vehicle comes with a nice, clean title.
  • Make sure the vehicle identification number matches up.
  • Take a photo of the seller's driver's license. The name on there should be the same name on the title.