Apr 202009

Over a year ago, my minivan crapped out for good. Shortly after that, Alpha Geek got me a brand-spanking-new Honda Fit. (The Artist, comparing the tiny Fits to the minivan, dubbed them “nanovans.”)

The van languished in the driveway for a while. Alpha Geek was reluctant to just call a junker, because the only thing wrong with it was the engine. Unfortunately fixing the engine was a job of a couple thousand dollars, which was more than the resale value of the van itself. I wanted to either fix it or get rid of it; sitting idle for long periods is no good for a car, and our driveway was beginning to resemble a junkyard when the van’s tires began to go flat.

Finally I coaxed him into letting me sell it and get it out of the driveway. I found someone on Craigslist who bought old cars; they came out, replaced the flat tire, and hooked the van up to their tow truck. I gave them all our records of service and repair on the vehicle. The wife was a notary and notarized the title after I signed it over to them. They gave me cash, towed the van away, and I pretty much forgot about it.

Fast forward to this afternoon; I came home to a voicemail from a lady saying she needed to talk to me about the van she purchased from me. Puzzling, as I couldn’t imagine why—they had known the van was dead when they bought it, the deal was done, have a nice day.

I called her back, and we had about five minutes of confusion where she was saying the van we had sold her was overheating and wasn’t driveable, and I was saying the van I had sold her hadn’t been drivable when she bought it. Eventually we figured out that she had bought the van from the people I sold it to—and the wife had claimed to be me, and had signed my name to the title when they transferred it. Now the new owner is having trouble with the van overheating and not running, and the fake me’s phone numbers are no longer working.

The records of service and repair I had given them had been passed along to the new owner, and that’s how she tracked down my phone number. We compared notes and came away with a few interesting bits of information:

  • She had found the van through an ad on Craigslist, from people who regularly advertise vehicles for sale,
  • The woman had signed my name on the title transfer, but when asked to initial somewhere else had signed with initials that do not match my name,
  • The DMV pulled up my driver’s license for her, and she was able to verify from my photo that I was not the same person who sold her the van, but
  • The DMV said the fake me won’t get in much trouble for signing someone else’s name to the title.

I gave her my e-mail address so she could contact me if she needs me to show up in court some day and testify. I wish I could remember the date we sold it, although that’ll be on the title I transferred to them so we should be able to figure that out if necessary.

Now the really weird thing: she said that shortly after she purchased the van, she called my phone number—the same one she used to phone me today—and the imposter answered it. That, I can’t figure out at all. I got the date from her so I can ask Alpha Geek about it. Is it possible to hack into a VoIP and reroute their calls to your phone?

Good grief.

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