Online vehicle fraud is on the rise, with victims losing a total of £ 16.5 million in nine months this year alone, new research has shown.
According to Action Fraud, this is a 10 percent increase over the same months of March and November of last year.
In vehicle fraud, scammers often post pictures of cars for sale online even though they don’t own such a car and steal the money.
One victim is Ingrid Wilkes of Hertfordshire, who recently lost £ 1,950 to such a scam on eBay.
Ingrid bought a Nissan Juke on eBay and paid £ 1,925 to seller via bank transfer (stock image)
While she was home recovering from the surgery, she looked for a new car to make her return to work easier.
She found one on eBay that she liked, a Nissan Juke, and since that was during the lockdown, some dealerships offered a service where they deliver the car to the customer and they then have a certain number of days to to return it if you are not satisfied.
Ingrid, 52, said, “I did some research on the dealer. They had 25 cars advertised in their eBay showroom and all of the ads looked very professional with plenty of photos of the outside and inside.
“I privately checked the license plate to make sure the car wasn’t stolen, HPI was clear, and everything was totaled correctly.”
She added that the company has been registered as a limited liability company and promoted through other platforms, some of which require their dealers to sign a code of conduct.
Other signs that they were a legitimate business were the fact that they had a landline number and a registered address in Manchester.
Ingrid decided to contact the company through eBay. However, since it was a classified ad, they later responded privately and not through the platform.
When a seller lists an item on an eBay classified ad, they provide a price, the buyer contacts them, and together they complete the transaction outside of the eBay platform.
Ingrid paid the money to someone by bank transfer, but unfortunately the car never arrived
It paid out 50 percent of the cost of the car’s value via bank transfer and cost £ 1,925. Unfortunately the car never arrived.
She said, “I’ve since found out that your address is owned by a climbing company and not a car dealership. I contacted the company and learned I would receive a refund, but it never arrived. ‘
The scammer blocked her number when she asked for a refund and never replied to any of her emails.
After Ingrid realized this was likely a scam, she immediately reported it to Action Fraud, Trading Standards, her bank, and eBay.
Her bank, Lloyds, said they couldn’t bring a fraud case until they waited 14 days to see if they received a refund.
After 14 days, she was told that there was no money available at the bank she sent money to and that she was not entitled to a refund because she had negligently bought a car without seeing it.
Ingrid said if she had been allowed to proceed before the 14 days, the money might still have been there for her to reclaim.
A Lloyds Bank spokesman said: “We have great sympathy for Ms. Wilkes who was the victim of fraud. Unfortunately, before transferring her money, she didn’t check that the car she bought on eBay was actually for sale.
It is important to be very careful when using bank transfers to pay for products and services through online marketplaces. If a seller is pressuring you to send money upfront, or if the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. ‘
It was said that Ingrid had deposited the money into a personal account and although she tried to recover the money she transferred to the scammer after calling the bank, there was unfortunately no more money left.
The company she bought the car from is still advertising on eBay, although it was removed shortly after This is Money contacted the online marketplace.
She has now taken the case to the finance ombudsman in the hope of getting some of the money back.
|month||Number of reports||Reported losses|
|March, 20th||322||£ 326,619|
|20th of April||1.573||£ 2,230,996|
|May 20th||2,004||£ 2,700,908|
|20th June||2,169||£ 2,976,063|
|20th of July||2.094||£ 2,137,160|
|20th of August||1.556||£ 1,226,888|
|September 20th||1,550||£ 1,615,201|
|the 20th of October||1.636||£ 1,582,340|
|20th November||1,880||£ 1,742,147|
|Source: Promotion Fraud|
With Ingrid and the seller arranging the payment offline, eBay stated that it had no records of the purchase and was unable to check it on its system.
It is said that any person making a purchase on an online platform is asked not to transfer a large amount of money before viewing the item in person. A seller or retailer who requests this can be a sign of scam on any platform.
An eBay spokesperson said, “We are very sorry to hear that Ms. Wilkes appears to have been fraudulent. We have investigated this seller and taken action on the account.
‘We take our responsibility to protect users very seriously and invest heavily in teams dedicated to fraud prevention and providing law enforcement agencies with evidence to combat criminal behavior.
When purchasing a vehicle, users should personally view the item before making payments and not remove the transaction from the eBay platform.
“Anyone who suspects they may be a victim of fraud should contact eBay Customer Service immediately and report the Action Fraud incident.”
It seems the lockdown has made drivers more desperate for good business as this June was the worst month for vehicle fraud, with losses of almost £ 3m compared to £ 2.25m in the same period in 2019.
There were also 2,094 reports issued in July with losses of £ 2.14 million.
An Action Fraud spokesperson said, “Criminals will use every opportunity to defraud innocent people, including those looking to buy a new vehicle.
“You can use the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for not being able to view the vehicle in person before paying a deposit, which seems plausible.
“However, we always recommend that you see the vehicle in person and take a test drive before paying any money.
“If you are buying a vehicle from a website or person you don’t know and trust, do some research first. Look for reviews of the website or person you are buying from.
When buying an item from a seller on an online marketplace, you can view the seller’s feedback history before proceeding with the purchase to verify that they are legitimate.
“When you decide to buy, choose a payment method that gives you protection, such as a credit card in case something goes wrong.”
We lost £ 3,500 after trying to buy a car on Facebook
It’s not just eBay home to vehicle fraud – others have found that social media websites can be dangerous too.
A Surrey couple lost £ 3,500 on a car they bought on Facebook via bank transfer that was never delivered by criminals claiming to work for Cars For U Limited.
After Paula Jones * saw an ad on Facebook last October, she clicked on the ad that took her to a website.
They chatted with the supposed owners of the vehicle by email and sent a payment of £ 3,500 electronically.
Paula said, “They said it would be delivered on Monday October 28th. Cars For U emailed that there was a delay that would be delivered at 6pm on Tuesday. It was not.
“When it didn’t arrive, my husband called Barclays around 6:30 PM. He explained what happened, but the Barclays call center agent said there was nothing they could do to help us. ‘
Unfortunately, they had become the victims of an authorized push payment (APP) scam in which fraudsters trick their victims into willingly making large bank transfers to them.
Instead of compensating the Joneses by signing up for the APP code, Barclays advised the couple to report it to the police, which they did.
The police did not come to the couple and returned to Barclays after a few months paid the couple £ 350 as an apology for taking so long and not following the correct procedure.
However, when This is Money reached out to the bank for further comment on their actions, Barclays opened another investigation and refunded the couple for the money they had lost in full.
* Not her real name
How to check if it is a legitimate listing
1. Research the seller and review the feedback
2. Find the approximate value of the vehicle you want to buy and compare it on other websites. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is
3. Before sending any money, check the vehicle using lockout rules and social distancing
4. If a buyer is unsure whether the vehicle on offer is legitimate, contact customer service immediately
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
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