My Car Check, a vehicle data provider, has warned of a sharp rise in scams targeting used car and motorbike buyers and sellers.
The company has said that vehicles tend to be advertised for considerably less than they are worth.
Often the vehicle is being shipped to or from another country and all communications are conducted via email, usually in broken English.
Justin Powell, manager of My Car Check’s Glasgow call centre, said: “We are constantly hearing about scams in the used vehicle market, but the frequency of these calls has increased markedly in recent weeks.
“They are nearly always private sales because the crooks prey on peoples’ unfamiliarity with the process.”
Actual email targeting a buyer interested in a Ford Focus
Hello there, I am glad to hear that you are interested to buy my 2006 Ford Focus ST2.
Although I am registered in the UK, i recently moved to Cadiz, Spain (where my family is from) and the car is being shipped from here. I want to sell it in UK due to the fact that it’s an UK version (right handed). It still has UK registration, so you won’t have to pay any import and insurance fees.
You will get from me the keys and all documents to register the car in you name. If the car is not how i described it, i will offer a full refund. It will be insured during transportation and will be delivered at your address in maximum 10 days. Final price is GBP 4,000 (the price includes shipping and insurance fees).
Powell added: “We urge both buyers and sellers to be extra vigilant.
“The volume and complexity of these scams suggests the involvement of organised criminal gangs.
“For buyers, our history checks can prevent an expensive mistake, but all too often people contact us after the event, because they fear something is wrong.
“One such customer recently transferred £11,000 on the promise of a car being shipped from Germany.
“Rather than going into a secure holding account, the money was simply pocketed by the criminals.
“The car will never arrive.”