TOP TEN TIPS FOR AVOIDING ONLINE FRAUD
- If it sounds too good to miss, swerve! It is often the case that private sellers undervalue their vehicles which enables the eagle-eyed buyer to hurriedly jump in and buy at a bargain price. That is where the fraudster comes in. In fraud, a person will attempt to fool you into believing that he or she is a legitimate seller with a bargain. The trap is most often, to defraud you out of your money. The goods often do not exist, are nothing like their description or simply do not belong to the seller. Sometimes, particularly where you are selling, the fraudster will want to make off with your vehicle by the use of counterfeit cheques, money or a stolen part exchange.
- Think hard before sending any money! Always be suspicious no matter how good a deal it seems, no matter how convincing the seller is and no matter how small an amount. A fraudster will be collecting deposits, and often the full purchase price of the vehicle, from a number of different people. Yet, once again, the goods often do not exist, are nothing like their description or simply do not belong to the seller. Even when the seller uses a legitimate home address and name, that can be verified, they can still belong to an innocent third party that the fraudster is pretending to be. The fraudster may also be using a well known high street bank to fool you into being reassured. Many fraudsters will talk to you on the phone, but quite often the phone number does not work and they seek to groom you out of your money by email. "Sorry been called away… bereavement… working overseas… on holiday… send a deposit…" etc etc.
- A fraudster needs to make you think they genuinely have the vehicle. Some fraudsters are hardened criminals and can be involved in all sorts of crimes. They may also be ex car or bike salesman, mechanics, or failed entrepeneurs. They may know a lot about the vehicle they are pretending to sell, they may be able to go into its history and even talk about the various car or bike clubs and shows. Don't be overawed or outwitted.
- If you are selling a vehicle and you are offered cash why not insist upon the person drawing the cash out in front of you at an agreed bank branch. Get it authorised with the local branch and make arrangements to pay it back in on the spot. You could of course arrange an electronic transfer of the money with the purchaser in front of the cashier at the till in a branch of the buyers bank. Always be suspicious of cheques, bankers drafts or large amounts of cash as you have a right to refuse them. They can be and often are, fraudulent. If the buyer or seller cannot meet you at a bank branch during banking hours consider finding another buyer. Often a fraudster will say that the transaction will be done through paypal and they will pay straight away. They may say that they have over paid a 3rd party like Paypal and require you to pay back the shipping costs etc. They may also produce evidence of the over payment on official looking paper or emails. Don't be fooled into paying out to help someone buy your car.
In all cases why not insist upon proof of the buyers identity, a passport, driving licence or utility bill, or all three. Jot down the vehicle registration the buyer turns up in. You cannot be too careful.
- Fraudsters often use email address that are easy to get. A typical address might be a name which is followed by several numbers for example: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. They will use any number of email providers.
- When buying obtain the vehicles registration details and get a vehicle data check. Simply go into a search engine and search Vehicle History or Data check.
- When buying why not ask for particular pictures of the vehicle to be taken and sent to you. But don't rely on them alone, they may have access to the vehicle whilst not owning it. Study the back ground of the vehicle pictures. What time of year was the picture taken? What country was the picture taken in? Road markings, road signs, traffic direction and foliage and fauna will all give you a clue.
- Do not allow yourself to be brow beaten or bullied and do not feel compelled to buy or sell. The fact that there are other people looking at the vehicle, with great interest, could be an act or scam. Often fraudsters will use female names in adverts or emails as people often tend to be more trusting of women.
- Do remember that the overwhelming majority of vehicle sales are successful and legitimate deals particularly when buying or selling through an established car dealer. In the majority it is a reasonably honest world. The fraudster often needs to act his or her part well to defraud you. If something does not seem right to you, or you sense the individual may be less than honest, excuse yourself and walk away.
- At CarAndClassic we do not personally sell vehicles, or arrange finance or the transfer of funds. We also do not arrange delivery, storage or shipping. We do not put email addresses or phone numbers in the advert text box or the attached photographs. You need to be cautious of the content of any links you might see to web sites whether they appear to be to our site or elsewhere. It is not beyond the realms of possibility for a fraudster to create a site, or pages, that look like CarAndClassic.co.uk.
1) If you wish to report a fraud please visit www.actionfraud.org.uk
2) UK Government advice on buying and selling a vehicle www.nidirect.gov.uk
3) ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service www.avcis.police.uk