Scam car sales warning issued

A consumer warning has been issued in Worcestershire after a resident lost nearly £7,200 after being duped by a scam internet car seller.

It brings the total lost in this way in the county to £27,000 in recent years.

Each victim responded to adverts placed by fake sellers on well-known internet auction and vehicle websites.

In each case a sale was agreed without seeing the vehicle in person, after an exchange of photos and details via email. The unsuspecting purchasers were then directed to pay by bank transfer or Western Union by ‘payment protection service’ emails that seemed to come from the sale website, but were in fact fraudulent.

Once the money was transferred out of the consumers’ bank accounts, the scammers disappeared and the vehicles were never delivered. Payments by bank transfer or Western Union cannot be reversed.

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Joint Committee Chairman Cllr Bronwen Behan said: “This is a sophisticated scam being perpetrated on Worcestershire consumers. The emails used to dupe consumers look very professional and are almost identical in style to the real websites. Legitimate websites never ask for money transfers in this way. If you are unsure contact the website owners or publishers to double check.”

Be aware of scams when buying or selling vehicles online:

  1. If an offer sounds too good to be true it probably is
  2. Never transfer money to someone you don't know for a vehicle you've not seen
  3. Always view a vehicle in person and in the light before agreeing to buy
  4. Always get a vehicle history check from a reputable source for peace of mind
  5. Always check whether a ‘payment protection service’ is genuine before sending money
  6. The Metropolitan Police and Western Union Bank both recommend that consumers use money transfers as a means to purchase goods only when sending money to someone they already know and trust.
  7. Do not pay by bank transfer or Western Union as these payments cannot be reversed

Consumers with any complaints of this type should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 03454 040506.

Car buying scams cost consumers around £3 million a year, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau.