Recently, the number of cases of fraud, when buying / selling a car via the Internet, has increased. In order to help you protect yourself better from expensive disappointments, we describe in the following the typical tricks of the fraud trade.
Different fraud tricks are currently used, but, in principle, they all have one thing in common: Money is required in advance, often in connection with transfers via Western Union. If you hear key words such as “proof of liquidity”, “money transfer”, “trust service“, „cheques for too high a sum“, your alarm bells should start ringing.
As a matter of principle, the following is important: Do not, as a buyer, enter into transactions for which the seller demands dubious payments, for example to an account abroad. Do not, as a seller, hand over the car, until you have received the full amount of the purchase price. And: Watch out that you are not referred to “rip-off” telephone numbers (in Germany: 0190 etc.).
In the following, the individual fraud tricks are described in detail:
Fraud by means of money transfer
You have to be extremely careful, if the seller calls for a proof of liquidity. In several cases, prospective buyers were instructed to pay per money transfer via Western Union Financial or MoneyGram, in order to prove that they could actually pay the purchase price for the car agreed upon. The online car seller AutoScout24 urgently recommends not to do so, since the lacking safety measures enable the confidence tricksters to unauthorisedly access the paid-in sum - in all cases the money was withdrawn by a “person unknown” and has been lost since then.
The money is passed on via alleged trust services. The car is offered for a particularly advantageous price. The alleged seller answers to the email of the prospective buyer and lures the seller with the alleged trust service that was, according to the seller, offered by AutoScout24. AutoScout24 DOES NOT HAVE A TRUST SERVICE. In addition to this, the trickster gives contact details of this trust service, including an email address that is similar to that of AutoScout24 (e.g.: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The trickster assures the prospective buyer that he will deliver the car only few days after the receipt of the paying-in form. With the pay-in slip, the trickster can, however, withdraw the money, i. e. the money is gone and so will be the trickster.
Bidders, too, run the risk of being damaged when selling their used car for example due to uncovered cheques, since, only after several weeks, banks can confirm, if the cheque was covered or not. In one concrete case, the prospective buyer asked for cancelling the deal that was made. Hereupon, the seller transferred the purchase price, just to be informed by his bank, a short time later, that the initial cheque was not covered.
Take care when you receive an email from an alleged car dealer (for the most part, from abroad), who maintains that he has already found a prospective buyer for the car. He will then, for different reasons, offer a cheque for too high a sum, to be sent back to the seller. The difference to the purchase price shall then be reimbursed by the seller via Western Union. The cheque bounces after a certain period of time and the paid-in difference is gone.
“Rip-off” via telephone
By means of chargeable telephone numbers, alleged sellers can quickly relieve prospective buyers of umpteen euros. Watch out: If the alleged seller gives, in the contact details or in the free text field of the display, a telephone number beginning with the area code 0137, 0180, 0190 or 0900, the call can become a very expensive one. It has to be observed that „rip-off“-numbers are likely to be „hidden“. One example: the following fictive number 200 300 with the chargeable area code 0137 does not catch the eye so easily when written in the following way: 013 720 030.
Simple down payment fraud
The alleged seller convinces the prospective buyer by way of more or less long email contacts or on the telephone to pay a first instalment, in order to thus reserve the car. Upon receipt of the payment, the trickster is no longer available and the money is gone forever.
Cash is safest
For this reason, AutoScout24 advises: Fingers off of cheques, bank or money transfers via unsafe bidders. To buy / sell a car in exchange for cash is surer. However, you have to watch out here, too: The prospective buyer should never bring money to the first date of inspection. Only when the car is handed over, the payment is effected.
Basic tips and tricks
In order to avoid that the sale / purchase of used cares becomes a nightmare and in order to prevent that the joy at the new used car fades off too quickly, there are a few tips and rules the buyer should observe: