Q736: I want to buy a car that has been advertised on the internet. How can I tell whether or not it is genuine?

Just because the car is advertised on a reputable site such as Autotrader or Ebay does not automatically mean that the seller is genuine. Many criminal gangs have been using reputable sites to advertise cars that don't belong to them or don't even exist.

Once the buyer decides that they want the car they are then taken to a fake website where they hand over the cash for a car that they will never see. The website is supposed to hold on to the cash until the vehicle is received (supposedly an independent place to hold the money whilst the deal is done), but it goes straight into the bank accounts of the criminal gangs, most of whom are based abroad.

There are a few ways to spot a fraudulent car sale:

  • check the address and postcode are correct
  • if it is supposed to be a big company there should be a landline and not just a mobile number
  • check the mobile number and look out for suspicious voicemail messages
  • look for spelling mistakes
  • be very wary if you cannot meet the buyer in person and physically see the car before you buy it.
  • It's better to miss the 'bargain' than lose a lot of money. Don't let the red mist of greed take hold of you, and think things through objectively.

See the website in related information for more details.

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