Money Wellness
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calendar icon27 Sep 2023

Warning to motorists as car scams soar

Motor enthusiasts should be on their guard with car and van scams surging by 74% in the first half of 2023, according to new research by Lloyds Bank.

Vehicles – and their accessories such as car parts – are now the most common type of online shopping scams reported, with motorists losing £998 on average.

How do the scams work?

Fraudsters create fake posts on social media or online marketplaces to advertise vehicles that don’t exist. They sometimes even include pictures of genuine cars or vans to convince buyers they’re real.

However, when a potential buyer gets in touch for more information, they’re asked for a deposit – and sometimes the full amount - to ‘secure’ the vehicle. If the buyer asks to see the vehicle in person, the fraudsters come up with a number of excuses as to why this isn’t possible.

The fraudsters apply pressure selling tactics – telling buyers the car is popular, they’ve had other offers, or that payment must be made by a certain deadline.

They’ll then get the buyer to send money by bank transfer - known as Faster Payment. Once they have done this there’s no way of getting the money back as bank transfers aren’t designed for making payments online and offer little protection when things go wrong.

As soon as the money is sent, the buyer will be blocked, and the seller’s profile will disappear. Occasionally a fake address will be provided to collect the car, leaving buyers with a wasted trip, financial loss and no car.

According to Lloyds Bank, the Ford Fiesta is the most commonly reported model for vehicle scams this year after Ford announced production had ceased a few months ago.

BMW and Audi also feature heavily among the fake ads, with deals typically appearing too good to be true, while motorbikes and classic cars are also prone to being used in scam adverts.

The most dangerous places for vehicle fraud to take place are Facebook, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram as they don’t have payment mechanisms built in making asking for bank transfer seem more likely.

Buyers should also be aware of eBay, with 15% of vehicle scams beginning on the site.

What should you do if you’re the victim of a scam advert?

If you fall victim to a scam advert, you should follow the guided process to alert the platform to the scam buyer to make sure others do not fall victim to their scam.

You should also speak to the payment provider you used. If you sent money via bank transfer, you’re not protected and will probably not be able to reclaim any monies lost. However, if you paid my credit card you should be able to request a refund via their fraud protection.

You should also contact Action Fraud if you think you’ve been scammed. You can report online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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