In general, money is tight and the more dubious among us will resort to any means of thievery…
We came across a recent scam first-hand. We spotted one of our pictures with all our branding removed using photoshop on Facebook. It was posted with false price and year-model information (R100 000 ‘cheaper’ on Facebook). And being the festive season, a time when fraudsters are out in force, we thought it would be useful to look into the latest automotive scams and talk about how to avoid them.
You probably don’t need to be told to never buy a car on Facebook because there’s too much information that needs to be exchanged (it’s ridiculous). But unfortunately, some scammers are better than others and some people are inherently too trusting of strangers. Nevertheless, falling victim to scams is completely avoidable if you heed these indicators of mal-intent and take the tips:
Red Flags as Someone Interested in Buying:
- The car is advertised as much cheaper than its market value. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Number plates blocked out in the photos.
- Email-only contact details or faulty phone numbers.
- Messages from the seller are riddled with spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
- The seller says he/she ‘moved overseas’ or is ‘away on business’ and can’t use the phone.
- The seller asking for a deposit or the full price before making it possible to contact them or see the car for yourself.
Tips to Avoid Being Scammed as a Buyer
- Never buy a vehicle without seeing, and preferably, driving it first.
- Ask to see the Road Worthy Certificate, logbook and service history. Study the entries and timestamps meticulously and ensure they are original, not photocopies.
- Check that the seller’s physical address matches the one in the car’s Road Worthy Certificate/Natis logbook.
- Do a history check to confirm registration details (VIN ID number) because this will tell you if the vehicle was stolen or if there’s outstanding finance.
Tips to Avoid Being Scammed as a Seller
- Never hand over the keys until your bank has confirmed the full value of the vehicle has cleared into your bank account.
- Any buyers who are truly interested come out and see the vehicle for themselves, so protect yourself by requesting that they do so. Meeting in person will give you a much better idea of the potential buyer’s intentions.
One last Tip for Buyers or Sellers
- Upon receiving emails asking you to verify login information relating to your bank account or some other platform – be sure to check whether it’s official or not. Fact-check URLs and email addresses. Bear in mind that you’re only really asked to do stuff like that as you create accounts or if you forget your password…
Stay shrewd and have an incredible festive season.