The South African police are concerned about the reports received by various police stations within the cluster of internet and print media scams targeting prospective used vehicle buyers.
Pre-owned vehicles are advertised in the newspapers and on the internet and buyers are requested to pay a deposit up front to secure a deal. The vehicles are advertised at such bargain prices that the buyer rushes to make the requested deposit into the bank account that is provided by the would-be seller so as not to lose out on a great buy.
Sadly, once the deposited money has been withdrawn from the account, the buyer finds that the “sellers’ cell phone has been disconnected and it is usually at this stage that he or she realises that their deposit money has disappeared with the con artist. Their dream of getting a vehicle at a bargain price is shattered.
How to avoid this happening to you:
- The phone number is either faulty or diverting to voicemail
- Number plates are blocked out
- Additional pictures with e-mail only contact details
- During email correspondence, the seller will say they are unable to use the phone due to illness or because they are away on business or moved abroad
- The seller will ask you to wire a large deposit or the full price of the vehicle to them before creating an excuse to avoid releasing the vehicle, telling you to transfer more money or becoming impossible to contact
- A vehicle is much cheaper than its market value
- If a seller cannot give you a landline telephone number
- If the advert or subsequent emails are full of spelling mistakes and poor grammar
Auto Trader’s tips to avoid being scammed:
- Payment: Never wire money abroad or pay a large deposit and don’t hand over money until you’ve physically seen the vehicle and the seller and are satisfied that it is genuine. To protect yourself request that an interested buyer always meets you and views the vehicle in person. Never hand over the vehicle keys until your bank has confirmed the full value of the vehicle has cleared into your bank account.
- Price: Check the vehicle’s market value by getting a valuation or comparing the price with other similar models.
- Visit the seller: Never buy a vehicle without seeing or driving it first. Also, always view the vehicle at the seller’s home, checking the address matches the one on the Natis or Road Worthy Certificate registration document (logbook).
- History check: A history check can confirm registration details, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and tell you if a vehicle is recorded as stolen or is subject to outstanding finance.
- Paperwork: Ask to see the logbook, service history and Road Worthy Certificates and examine them thoroughly before handing over any money – make sure all documents are the originals and not photocopies.