RENO, Nev. (KOLO) It began with a search for a car for his son, which led them to an ad on Craigslist and, eventually, to an encounter that left them without the car or the money they paid for it.
Chance Geving went into this transaction with eyes wide open and forewarned.about such sales.
"I mean, I read the stories. I watch your news reports every day. You're always warning about it."
The car--a 2011 Ford Taurus-- looked great; the seller was personable and seemed honest. They met at a safe spot--a bank. The seller who'd identified himself as Jeffrey Murden had a proper bill of sale which he had notarized. He did not have the title, which should have been a red flag, but said he'd go with Geving to DMV to get it. And he had no objection to Geving recording the whole transaction.
A key was handed over. The sale done.
They offered to drive Murden to his home, but he said his wife would pick him up. Not wanting to wait around and, in spite of his initial caution, Geving was comfortable enough with the man to invite him back to his house to watch football while they waited for her to show.
Murden stepped outside to take a phone call.
"About the third time he did that I said to my son 'Let's go get that car, put it in the driveway. I'll put my car behind it' We went out. He was gone."
Reno Police have seen cases like this before.
"Unfortunately we've seen CraigsList deals go bad," says Reno Police Officer Tim Broadway. "We had the shooting at Paradise Park several years ago and this most recent incident."
Geving did a lot of things right, but Broadway says he should not have paid in cash. A cashier's check would have given him time to cancel payment or catch the suspect when he tried to cash it.
The lack of title at the transaction was another missed red flag.
"If someone says, this is my vehicle, I own it outright, They should have the title with them."
Geving is left with the key to a car he doesn't have and some hard lessons he wants to pass on to others. And, as for Murden, the man he trusted, a message.
"If you're watching this and want to do the right thing you'll turn yourself in. I don't expect to see the money again but that would be nice too."
Armed with the video and good clear pictures of this man, police believe they know who Murden is, though it's believed he has several aliases. They also have reason to believe he's a suspect in a similar case in Las Vegas.
Secret Witness is offering a $500 reward for information leading to his arrest and prosecution. Their number is 322-4900. Callers may remain anonymous while collecting cash rewards.
When discovered, he will face charges of obtaining money under false pretenses and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Anyone buying a car through CraigsList or any other private party source can and should request to make the transaction at a police station. They should also call police to run a VIN number check to make sure the vehicle isn't listed as stolen, which--as it turns out--this one is.