If folks are spending money somewhere on the Internet, there are likely scammers there too, cashing in on unsuspecting shoppers. We have seen a surge in online car buying in recent years, especially with used cars. This has triggered a boost in fraud. Crooks post ads for nonexistent cars, shoppers wire funds for the vehicle, and, poof, that money vanishes into thin air.
In accordance with the most recent Internet Crime Complaint Center annual report, auto fraud makes up about 12 percent of all online purchase scams, totaling $64 million in consumer losses. Dependable Auto Shippers, one of the largest vehicle shipping service providers in the world, wants to make people conscious of just how big of a risk this fraud poses.
Shipping vehicles for online consumers is a large portion of our business, therefore we receive numerous calls on a monthly basis from people who have fallen prey to online auto scams, said John Roehll, executive vice president and co-owner of DAS. We should raise awareness for consumers to be vigilant against scammers and protect them from online auto fraud.
DAS said that scammers entice their victims with incredibly cheap prices along with the promise of using a shipping company to deliver the vehicle. They’ll also demand immediate payment due to some bogus reason, including military deployment or a tragic family emergency. Victims then send an unrecoverable payment through a money transfer or money order for a nonexistent vehicle.
According to the Internet Criminal Complaint Center, the normal amount of money lost on one of those scams is $3,700.
In order to prevent yourself from second hand car fraud, DAS offered five tips you must follow:
1. Never wire payment
Legitimate dealers will never request a wire transfer. Request a different form of payment if you’re dealing with a private seller plus they want you to us something like Western Union. Scammers use wire transfers because it is essentially the same thing as sending cash in the mail. Once the funds are gone, it cannot be recovered.
2. Talk on the phone
A seller making excuses for not being able to speak on the phone is an important red flag. By speaking with the vendor (email doesn’t count), you can find more info in the background and history of the person or business.
3. Slow down
When a seller says the vehicle will be held by a transportation company and will ship as soon as payment is received, take a minute to call the shipping company to validate the arrangement. Scammers love to pressure their victims into quickly sending payment with fake sob stories or really low prices about the car. You should be diligent, research your options and invest some time with a big purchase similar to this.
4. Examine information carefully
A listing with stock images of the car with no visible license plate is definitely an indication of any scam. If there are pictures, make sure the colors, body work and other distinguishing features match up with the description.
5. Get your own CARFAX report
Scammers want to pull real CARFAX reports of cars that do exists for their fake listings. You absolutely should order your own vehicle history report. The National Insurance Crime keeps a free database that includes flood damage and other information so consumers can investigate a car’s history. Always check that this registration or license plate matches the seller’s name.