The most useful tool of the modern car criminal is not the crowbar or the slim jim, but that of anonymity. Most scams that target the seller rely on a false buyer. When putting your car up for sale it pays to know what you are getting into.
The Car Grab Con
One of the most common enterprises of scammers is trying to obtain cars for sale without paying for them. They trawl adverts on websites and in traders’ magazines, then contact a seller and offer the full asking price plus shipping costs to another country. By the time their cheque has bounced your car is already in their hands. A variation is where they’ll arrange payment by escrow, in which money is temporarily held by a third party. When considering selling a car in this way always check out the escrow company before proceeding.
Vehicle Matching Scam
Beware unsolicited offers to help you make a sale. When advertising your vehicle you may be approached by an agency claiming to have a list of interested car buyers on their books. For a fee they offer to match you the seller to a potential buyer. The buyer doesn’t exist but you don’t discover this until you’ve lost your money. This particular kind of racket is the subject of a major offensive by the government and Trading Standards, and is believed to cost consumers around £3 million a year.
Shipping Fees Swindle
Another ruse of criminals is sending a cheque that covers the cost of the car and its freight, then asking you to pay a ‘shipping company’ via a PayPal account. In reality the account belongs to the scammer and the fee goes directly into their pocket.
There are almost as many scams as there are models of vehicle, and your best policy is never to release your car to anyone until you have received payment. Knowing your buyer is your best guarantee, and faceless trades should be approached with caution.
Another way is to use a dedicated service such as The Car Buying Service; a company such as this provide a safe and easy way to sell your car.