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Avoid Used Car Buying Scams

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 25 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Scams Car Buying Vehicle Fraud Car

A used car advertisement is like a magnet for car buying scams, so sellers beware. One of the most common scams involves a buyer from abroad and can leave sellers thousands of pounds out of pocket.

This vehicle fraud takes place over the internet and will start with an email from someone claiming to be an international dealer. The alarm bells should start ringing when the so-called dealer wants to buy the car without viewing it or receiving proof of condition. The fraudster will then claim to be owed money by a client in the UK who will send the seller a banker’s draft for the full price of the car and an additional chunk of money – usually thousands of pounds – to cover the cost of shipping.

Emails tend to be littered with spelling mistakes and poor grammar to give the impression that the dealer is an uneducated person who would not have the ability to swindle the seller. In another attempt to appear genuine, the fraudster may claim the car is to be a gift for a member of his family. The lack of a telephone number is typically put down to a temporary fault.

Car Buying Fraud

The next step in the car buying fraud is when the seller is asked to pay the banker’s draft into his bank and wire the excess money to the buyer to pay for shipping. Although fake, the banker’s draft may appear genuine enough, with a watermark and bank branch stamp. It will only be revealed as a forgery after it has been paid into the bank.

Once the money has been wired to the fraudster, the seller will never hear from them again. It can be days before the bank contacts the seller to say the banker’s draft was forged, stolen or has bounced. The money will be stripped from the seller’s bank account and they will be left thousands of pounds out of pocket. Neither the bank nor an insurance company will be able to help a seller recover the losses.

It is important to be extremely vigilant when selling a used car, especially if anything seems out of the ordinary. Never release a car until the bank has confirmed that the banker’s draft has been given value. Ask when funds can be withdrawn safely on the cheque – and remember that this can take days.

Credit Card Scam

Another scam aimed at used car sellers involves a fraudster posing as a representative of a specialist magazine or website. The seller will be sent an email offering a special rate to advertise his car for sale in the magazine or on the website. Typically, the offer will include a full money back guarantee if the car fails to sell.

The fraudster is after the credit card details of the seller, so be wary of any emails received when advertising a car for sale anywhere. In an attempt to defraud sellers, the scam may steal the name and logo of a legitimate magazine or website. The email may look genuine, therefore, but genuine car magazines and websites do not send emails to customers requesting credit card information, so be vigilant.

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