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News / Life / Clark County Life

Everybody Has a Story: Ranger Bob seeking new home

By Bonnie Hennessey, West Hazel Dell
Published: April 6, 2024, 6:10am

Scamming people, especially elderly folks like me, has become a thriving online industry. I try to remember that scammers can be lurking around any corner.

This week it came time to finally sell my husband’s beautiful, vintage, 1995 Ford Ranger truck: a stick-shift, four-cylinder, forest green relic. It has been an adventure for me to drive stick with the steering wheel spinner he installed to make it easier for me to muscle around corners and into tight parking spaces. The beige artificial leather seats are conspicuously patched with duct tape. The long crack in the windshield has been there since 1999.

“Ranger Bob” is the name John gave his truck. It’s been like a member of our family. John took excellent care of it, so it continues to run quite well.

He cleaned out all the accumulated maps, bungee cords, miscellaneous tools, jumper cables and first-aid kits from under its bench seat and glove box. He vacuumed it thoroughly for the first time ever. He drove it through its first car wash in years and shined it up. He even bought a colorful striped seat cover to hide the torn seats. It got a complete inspection and tune-up including new spark plugs, wires, gaskets, filters and repairs totaling $688.

Finally, it looked great! I took close-up photos, wrote a dazzling description and posted it on Craigslist for sale at the reasonable price of $3,200.

I was surprised by the deluge of responses that lit up my cellphone Sunday morning. Immediately, I thought we must be asking way too little for such a great vehicle, and wondered if it wasn’t too late to up the price. As I got ready for church I answered the inquiries and scheduled several appointments for afternoon showings.

After church there were three more inquiries. Most asked for specific Vehicle Identification Number history reports via websites I had never heard of. Several were dot-VIN sites. They wanted $20 to $40 to download the reports. Naturally, I resisted.

We waited for any prospective buyers to arrive. Several texted to say they still needed me to provide a specific history report before coming to inspect the truck. Still, I resisted. I longed for the day when people trusted each other and didn’t have to spend money proving themselves with costly reports.

With all of the interest shown, I really thought the truck would be sold that day.

Our 3 p.m. appointment was the only one who actually showed up. He happily looked over the truck and said the price was fair. He read the inspection report, drove the truck and exclaimed that he loved how it handled. He said he’d like to buy it, but had to go look at another truck before making the final decision.

As the sun set on Sunday, our truck stood in the driveway. Nobody else showed up and our one prospective buyer didn’t return.

Since most inquirers insisted that I purchase a particular version of a vehicle history report, maybe it was time to acquiesce. But first, I did some research.

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Guess what I discovered: demanding history reports through various websites is a major internet scam! It’s an ingenious method of nefariously harvesting your credit card data — or just scamming you out of $20 to $40! I’m glad I resisted.

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System provides title, salvage and odometer information for free. Complete information about vehicle history reports can be found with the U.S. Department of Justice at https://vehiclehistory.bja.ojp.gov. Information about vehicle history scams can be found with the National Trade Commission at https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2018/10/steering-clear-vehicle-history-report-scams.

On Monday morning I sent the free, legitimate report regarding John’s truck to all who had inquired. Most insisted that they needed their own version. I suggested that they were scamming me and deleted them from my phone.

On Wednesday, we got two more inquiries. One was from a young man who came all the way from Mount Hood and showed such enthusiasm, John accepted the $2,800 he offered.

We both slept very well that night.


Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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