Car Buyers Beware: Common Scams

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Cars are big-ticket items, and there are many ways for fraudsters to bilk unsuspecting victims. The rise of Internet commerce has vastly expanded the ways to separate a mark from his money, and has effectively made Internet fraud a global business. The fraud team put together this list of the most common scams in auto sales.

Check Scam
Scams involving checks (i.e. personal, cashier’s, third-party checks, money order) take many forms. In a typical example, a thief posing as a car buyer “accidentally” sends a check made out for an amount higher than the selling price of the vehicle and requests that the seller deposit the check and return the difference via a wiring service (Money Gram, Western Union, etc.). After the seller has wired the money, he or she learns the buyer’s check is worthless, and the thief disappears with the seller’s money.

Sympathy Scam
Preying on the sympathy of a mark is one of the oldest tricks in the book. In a common auto scam, a thief posing as a seller supplies a sad story to a potential buyer about why he or she needs to sell the car quickly. The sob story explains why the car’s asking price is so much lower than its current market value, and puts pressure on the buyer to make a quick decision. Buyers who fall victim to this scheme can end up with a lemon, or with no car at all.

Shipping Scam
In the shipping scam, a thief posing as a seller requests a deposit on a vehicle and promises to ship the vehicle to the potential buyer for personal inspection within a set number of business days. Typically thieves will tell prospective buyers a third-party shipping company will be in contact with the buyer to ship the car after the deposit is sent via wire service. Scammers often use forged or copied websites to appear legitimate. An investigation by the BBC revealed criminal gangs are often the perpetrators of shipping scams and other types of auto fraud.

Photo Scam
The photo scam happens when a vehicle is listed online, with the text giving a normal market rate of, say, $13,000, while the photo accompanying the ad shows a price written on it of $4,000. The thief tells the potential buyer the price of the vehicle is $4,000, saying it was reduced for some reason designed to elicit sympathy.

These are just a few of the scams posted in the article published by For more information check out the full article here and for a free car insurance quote visit our website today

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