Top 5 used car scams

Top 5 used car scams updates on the five most common tactics, following ‘a marked increase in scam reports’ this Summer at its Glasgow call centre.

  • Escrow fraud

Escrow fraud – where money is supposedly held by a third party – remains the No.1 tactic for criminals to target online buyers. Here is an excerpt from an email sent to a customer last month:

“As I said earlier with that fake buyer and those notes I`m not really prepared to allow anyone else near to my house. Here is how the process works through the Buyer Protection Program. I’m going to list it as a private auction on eBay and then send you the link, you will need to click on buy it now and just follow the instructions.”

Roger Powell, Divisional Head at CDL Vehicle Information Services commented: “This is a new twist on the escrow con, you see an advert for a temptingly priced car and when you enquire about it the seller suggests you make an online payment to a third party who will hold the funds until the car is delivered.

“The crooks think up all kinds of justifications for doing things this way. Here they claim to have had a bad experience with a previous buyer attempting to pay with forged bank notes. In any case, the giveaway is the idea of paying money to a ‘trusted’ third party. Don’t do it! The car will never arrive and the funds will not be returned.”

  • Cloning

Cloners attempt to disguise a stolen car’s identity by passing it off as another similar vehicle. Techniques vary in terms of sophistication, from changing the number plates to tampering with all kinds of identifying features.

  • Ringing

Ringing is the notorious activity of buying a written-off car from a scrap yard, doing a very quick and potentially dangerous repair job, and selling it on. Although the DVLA’s VIC marker scheme has been quite successful in tackling this crime it does still go on.

  • Misrepresentation

Roger Powell commented: “Misrepresentation is interesting because, in the private market, it is not technically a crime. The term covers everything from badly informed sellers not knowing what they bought in the first place, to a whole host of professional scams. Clocking – winding back the mileage – remains a huge problem.

Anyone buying a car privately must bear in mind ‘caveat emptor’, which is Latin for ‘buyer beware’. If you buy from a dealer you have rights under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. If you buy privately and the car turns out to be not ‘as described’ then getting redress can be difficult.”

  •  Neutral location meetings

Roger Powell commented: “You might think the phrase ‘we can meet in that car park’ would set the alarm bells ringing, but a lot of people fall for it. At least if the place you meet the seller matches the address on the logbook that provides some reassurance.

A car is usually the second most expensive thing you buy in your life, after a house. You wouldn’t buy a house without getting a survey done, so why buy a car without spending just a few quid checking the history and value?”

For further information on the ‘Buyer Beware’ initiative, just click ‘More Details’ below.

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