Vehicle scams soaring – how to avoid losing thousands
Drivers have been urged to stay vigilant when buying cars online as scam victims are losing almost £1000 on average.*
Motoring experts at Quotezone.co.uk are warning drivers how to avoid falling victim to fraud adverts after recent reports show online vehicle scams have increased by over 70%, as demand for second-hand cars continues to soar.
There has been a dramatic increase – 74% in the first half of the year – in the number of fake online advertisements from scammers attempting to sell vehicles to unsuspecting victims.
Reports from Action Fraud also show there were almost 3,000 online vehicle fraud reports in 2021 – a rise of 21% since 2019, costing consumers £9.5 million. This number is now expected to be significantly higher,** with 87% of UK adults coming across content online that they suspect to either be fraud or a scam.***
By using pictures of real cars, motorbikes and vans, scammers will upload a social media post or a makeshift website, pretending to sell a vehicle which doesn’t actually exist.
Reports show 68% of all scams relating to cars and vans appeared on Facebook and Instagram, and a further 15% were posted to eBay.
The now discontinued Ford Fiesta was the most popular car to scam – and with the rising campervan conversion trend, a rise in van scams is suspected to surge, with drivers hoping to bag a good deal to convert a second-hand van into a trendy staycation vehicle.****
When a victim replies to the scam hoping to buy the vehicle, they’ll often be told to make a bank transfer for a deposit, or even pay the full amount, in order to secure the deal.
With the fraudster making up excuses as to why the vehicle can’t be viewed in person, or using scaremongering tactics such as claiming other offers have been made, the victim often feels pressured into sending over their money. As soon as the payment is made, scammers will block the buyer and their profile will vanish.
Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk said: “The cost-of-living crisis and the shortage of new cars has created a surge in the second-hand car market that fraudsters are desperately trying to exploit. It’s shocking to see just how many cyber criminals are scamming drivers through online adverts and fake dealership websites.
“Those who unfortunately fall victim to these fraudulent vehicle sales are losing hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
“Scammers will upload images of real vehicles on social media or to a fake website in an attempt to sell these cars that don’t actually exist.
“Victims are then told to make an online bank transfer in order to ‘secure’ this vehicle, usually as it’s supposedly based hundreds of miles away, only to be blocked by the scammer and left with a significant loss.
“Brits who are looking to buy cars, motorbikes and vans online must always approach with caution to protect their money, covid has seen a surge of consumer faith in online shopping that has opened the door for opportunistic fraudsters.
“Always view the vehicle in person before making any transactions, and if the deal sounds too good to be true then it most likely is.
“If you want to shop online for your next car use an approved online dealer, check the reviews on google or Autotrader to make sure they are legit and do your homework, looking through the site, checking its location on google maps and giving them a call to check their details match those online.”
Here are Quotezone.co.uk’s tips on avoiding online vehicle scams:
- Too good to be true
If you’re thinking about buying a vehicle online remember that if the deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Checking the market rate of the car model is a quick way to see if this is a scammer at work.
- Check the details
Before purchasing the vehicle, ask the seller for the registration number, model and make of the car to check these details through the DVLA’s free service for vehicle enquiries. Ensure that these details match the V5C logbook and the DVLA’s information.
- Go and see the vehicle
It is highly recommended to avoid purchasing a vehicle without seeing it in person first; despite what the seller may say to avoid meeting up. If possible, view the car at the registered address in the logbook rather than in a car park, service station or other public places.
- Avoid private sellers
Although it may seem like a better deal, think twice about buying from private sellers, as it is very easy for scam artists to set up fake social media profiles. Instead, buy directly through an approved dealer, this increases your chances of a legit transaction. Be on the lookout for lots of spelling and grammar mistakes or incorrect English, these could be signs that the seller is not legitimate.
- Pay via card for protection
Paying with a debit or credit card will maximise your protection against scammers. But even if the transaction is done online or with cash, only transfer funds once the vehicle is in your possession. If there is an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ part of the web address, or there’s a padlock symbol in the task bar, then an encrypted system is in place that helps keep any data you send more secure.
If in doubt, contact The National Trading Standards, they may be able to let you know if they are currently investigating the website or company in question, so worth contacting to be sure before any purchase is agreed and report any suspicions you may have, you can even sign up for email alerts on Action Fraud’s website, to make you aware of any scams in your area.
As a price comparison site, Quotezone.co.uk helps millions of people in the UK save millions of pounds every year on essentials such as home and travel insurance – even specialist products if you have motor trade businesses or a fleet of vehicles, you can get help to find savings.
This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.