Consumers are losing nearly £3m a year to vehicle-matching scams, according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The scams start when private sellers place car adverts in magazines, online or in newspapers. They are then cold-called by fraudsters who promise to match their car with a willing buyer – for an upfront fee.
The OFT said in most cases there is no buyer, the contract with the ‘vehicle matcher’ cannot be cancelled, and any money paid out is lost.
Cost of the car scam
Last year more than 1,600 private sellers complained to advice service Consumer Direct about the scam, having lost between £80 and £99 each, but the true number of victims is thought to be much larger.
The OFT is now working with the police, local authorities and consumer organisations – including Which? – to crack down on the scammers.
Peter Stratton, motor trade lead officer at the Trading Standards Institute, said: ‘High pressure selling alongside cold calling makes this a very successful scam, often leaving the consumer with very little chance of obtaining redress. Partners are working together to help educate and protect consumers in respect of these rogues.’
Take a look at our guide to reporting a scam.
Advice for motorists
Websites that have become members of the Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group, including Autotrader, Exchange & Mart, and eBay, are now providing sellers with warnings about these scams.
Stay savvy with our guide to spotting a scam.
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