Staying Safe When Buying A Car Online

By | June 3, 2011

Wherever there is money changing hands, you’re sure to find scammers looking to find new ways to part you from your cash and they are becoming bolder in their methods. Although sometimes a scam can be hard to spot, being aware of commonly used scams will make them easier for you to avoid when you’re buying a new car through the classifieds. Here’s a list of some very commonly used cons that scammers are using on classified ads to try and trick you out of your money:

“Moved to Europe” Scam

The ad will appear to have been posted by a “nice retired couple” who claim to have recently moved back home to Europe and therefore need to sell off the car they left behind. Usually the ad will be accompanied by a picture of the alleged couple – if you make contact with the seller they will arrange to meet up with you in a UK city (often Liverpool), but refuse to do so until you transfer a large sum of money as a deposit and insurance for the meeting. Once you’ve transferred the money to them you’ll never see or hear from them again and they certainly won’t turn up to the meeting!

“Quick Sale Required” Scam

The vehicle in the ad will appear to be posted at a “too good to be true” price and the scammer will claim to have a reason for needing to sell the vehicle extremely quickly, such as moving abroad at short notice or an unexpected financial issue. This scam works because these type of ads draw in a lot of responses – the fraudster tries to get potential buyers to send large deposits for the vehicle thereby collecting a number of large sums of money for a car that doesn’t even exist! Remember: if the price of a car seems too good to be true then it probably is!

Armed Robbery

This happens frequently when buyers place wanted ads in classifieds for a particular model of car – the buyer is contacted by a ‘seller’ offering to sell a car matching the specification and requesting to meet the buyer. The scammer will ask that the buyer brings along either the full amount for the car or a deposit. Upon arriving at the meeting place, the buyer won’t be met by a happy seller and their dream car, but by an armed man demanding the cash. To avoid scams like this, never agree to take cash with you – if you’re suspicious, offer a check or secure bank transfer in place of cash. If they refuse to accept alternative methods of payment then stay away!

Private Registration Scam

This is a scam for numbers plates rather than cars, with the scammer offering to sell you a private registration plate. There are two possible outcomes to this scam: either the plate isn’t worth the plastic it’s printed on and comes with no retention document; or, the plate is genuine and comes with papers, but never belonged to the seller in the first place leaving you with a stolen plate and a lot of explaining to do.

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