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Advice issued following reports of car sale scam

19 Oct 2017

We have issued advice after receiving reports of a scam in which victims believe they are buying a car from eBay.

They make arrangements for the vehicle to be delivered or for the victim to collect the car and transfer the money to the supposed sellers. However, after the money is transferred the contact stops and the victim never receives the vehicle.

Detective Constable Phil Raikes said: “We have received a number of reports of this scam within Bedfordshire. It’s really important that the public remain vigilant and careful when shopping online.

“We are urging anyone purchasing or planning to purchase a vehicle online to take extra care in checking the credentials of the seller and to only hand over money after physically seeing and inspecting the vehicle.

“It is also important to make sure that the car is both in sound condition and legitimately for sale.

“If you have any doubts over the validity of an Internet sale, don’t hand over any money and instead report your concerns to Action Fraud.”

To report a concern to Action Fraud, call 0300 123 2040 or report online. If you believe the vehicle you have viewed is stolen, call police on 101.

You can find fraud and cyber-crime prevention advice on the Action Fraud website and further advice on how to stay safe when shopping online on the Get Safe Online website.  


Advice when shopping online

  • Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials.
  • Look into the seller or buyer – whether a private individual or online store. Look at their profile, their rating and transaction history. New sellers and buyers may not have a very comprehensive history, so be a little more cautious.
  • If the seller is a business, check their real-world existence. If they provide a phone number or address, give them a call. Sellers outside the UK may be harder to chase in the event of a problem.
  • Check online stores’ privacy and returns policies.
  • Be clear about shipping and delivery costs (for example, whether or not they are included and if not, if they are clearly stated).
  • Be clear about methods of payment and whether any of these incur a surcharge.

Advice when buying a car

  • Pay for the vehicle when you physically collect it from the seller. Never send money abroad, part with any money (including a deposit) for a vehicle you have not seen and inspected, or to a ‘payment protection’ service.
  • If the vehicle is being offered at a much cheaper price, it could be the sign of a scam. Always check the market value by getting a valuation or comparing the price on Auto Trader or similar sites.
  • Physically check the vehicle (preferably in daylight) and its documentation – V5C document (also known as the ‘logbook’, service history and MOT certificates) – before handing over any money.
  • Check the mileage appearing on the milometer matches its service history and old MOT certificates. On analogue milometers (found on some older vehicles) ensure the numbered barrels line up. Check the general condition matches age and supposed mileage.
  • Check that the V5C is authentic, with a DVLA watermark. Check the serial number in the top right-hand corner – if it falls into the following range it could be stolen and the police should be informed: BG8229501 to BG9999030, and BI2305501 to BI2800000.
  • View the vehicle at the seller’s home and check the address is the same as the one listed on the registration document (V5C). Ensure that the seller is the recorded keeper, otherwise they may not be legally entitled to sell the vehicle.
  • Get a car history check to find out whether the vehicle has been recorded as stolen, written off, scrapped or is subject to outstanding finance. You can check online to find out what information the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) holds about a vehicle.

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