International vehicle crime online
The United Kingdom (UK) consumer vehicle data provider My Car Check has warned of a sharp rise in scams targeting used car and motorbike buyers and sellers in the region – something South African consumers are advised to take note of as well.
“We are constantly hearing about scams in the used-vehicle market, but the frequency of these calls has increased markedly in recent weeks,” says Justin Powell, manager of My Car Check’s call centre in Glasgow, Scotland.
“They are nearly always private sales (not vehicles offered by dealers), because the crooks prey on peoples’ unfamiliarity with the process,” he explains.
“We urge both buyers and sellers to be extra vigilant. The volume and complexity of these scams suggests the involvement of organised criminal gangs,” Powell adds.
He illustrates: “One such customer recently transferred £11 000 (R223 094) on the promise of a car being shipped from Germany. It was a classic escrow scam. Rather than being deposited into a secure holding account, the money was simply pocketed by the criminals. The car will never arrive.”
According to My Car Check, telltale signs that conmen might be involved include: Vehicles advertised for considerably less than they are worth; mention of the vehicle being shipped to, or from, another country; all communication conducted via email, often in broken English.