Man out $5,500 after buying stolen car on Craigslist

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FLORISSANT, MO (KTVI) - A Florissant man needed a car and he thought he found the perfect vehicle online.

Byron Holloman, father of four children, needed a reliable car. He thought Craigslist would be a sure way to get a good deal quickly. He called the woman who posted the ad on Craigslist. She was selling a 2008 Chevrolet Impala. And it would cost $5,500.

They agreed to meet at a north St. Louis County grocery store. Holloman paid the woman in cash and drove off in the car. He had the title and the VIN number matched the title. He thought everything was fine or so he thought.

“The very next day, I registered the car, received my plates, and thought life was good,” Holloman said. “Until I received the detective coming to my home retrieving the car, telling me that it was stolen.”

Byron cooperated with police telling them about the Craigslist transaction. Police took his statement and said they wished to speak with the seller. But Byron said he was heartbroken watching as the car was towed away. He wasn't able to locate the seller, but said he did reach the woman who first reported the car stolen.

“I spoke with the lady one time and after that she disappeared,” he said. “I spoke with her and let her know where she could find her vehicle, and I told her who had it and what happened to me.”

That woman had little to offer as her text suggests. Byron said he's the one who's left with nothing.

“I’m out of a car. I’m out of schedules, promises I made to my children,” Byron said. “And I’m out of a job right now, so I’m out of transportation to find another job.”

Byron said he was desperate and admits that may have influenced his lack of judgment. Something he warns others about.

“Take your time. Try not to even buy off Craigslist,” he said. “If you can, meet in a police station. Take someone with you. Identify the person. Ask for IDs and get as much information as you can.'

We've reported that some communities have initiated "safe exchange" zones at police stations. After the death of one young man, it's clear that not everyone using Craigslist has honorable intentions. Police departments often have exterior cameras and crooks may shy away from doing business in such close proximity to police.