Want a cheap car? – try a scam website

when I originally wrote this post, I named the website that I believe is fraudulently advertising vehicles they don’t personally own, stock, or are otherwise able to legally sell. They certainly have one of our stock on their website, with an advertised price some £13000.00 lower than ours. I’ve subsequently been advised by my legal people that it a) it might be unwise to name them, b) that it might be ‘all a mistake’, and they are genuine sellers. Doesn’t explain why they’re using photos of one of the cars we have in stock, but whatever. Anyway, I’ve removed all traces of their name – make your own judgement

sorry, I can’t find the button to remove this screenshot of a clearly absolutely bona fide dealers website

following on from my previous blog posts on scam sellers (more fake advert shenanigans) and (fake listings on a well-known auction site), I seem to be spending a depressing amount of time at the moment fending off calls from clients that have been scammed by fake classified listings of our cars by fraudulent third parties on the internet, where cars are advertised at absurdly low prices.

I think most sentient people are aware these days that both a ‘well-known auction site’ and the biggest social network are like the Wild West when it comes to fake and scam listings. One of our cars is currently on the social network, and is clearly very well travelled as it’s showing as being advertised in Glasgow and Worthing, despite being within my eyeline in our showroom as I write this..

However, I’d never before seen an actual dealer website used for this purpose before, until yesterday.

XXX Car Sales (to appease my lawyer) fulfils this criteria.

A late-model Ford Mustang for just under 15K? Where’s my debit card?

A Porsche 997 for £9870? Where do I sign?

Land Rover Defender 90 TD5 XS station wagon for £7700? Oh yes…

Or should that be no. I can’t speak with certainty about the Mustang or the 997 (perhaps it’s a massively different market in Glasgow – if so then I’m on my way up there, or indeed, xxx Car Sales can happily contradict me) but I know for sure the Defender can’t be bought for £7700.00, as it’s currently sitting in our showroom for a competitive and realistic £19995.00. For once, they haven’t cloned our photos though.

As a dealer who’s worked long and hard for their reputation, and who, post Covid, still does a reasonable amount of remote sales, this sort of scam is insidious, as it erodes prospective buyer’s trust in us, by association. The person who called me about this car, that she’d seen advertised at xxx Car Sales, seemed to imply that Motodrome were somehow complicit in this fraud. As you can imagine, that left a nasty taste in the mouth.

It seems they did actually attempt to send xxx Car Sales a deposit, but fortunately for them, their bank suspected a potential fraud and refused to authorise it.

I made a throwaway comment to said client to the tune of; ‘you’d have to be pretty gullible to think you could buy a Defender like that for £7700.00’

reply; ‘I’m a Barrister, so I’m certainly not gullible’

Go figure.

As I’ve previously advised, if something looks to good to be true, it undoubtedly is. If you’re in any doubt as to a seller’s bona fides, a What’sApp video call in front of the vehicle with the seller will at least give you some comfort that they do at least have the vehicle to hand. And, whilst you’re at it, if you’re seriously interested in it, run an HPi check on it so you know the VIN number, and ask the vendor to show you the VIN tag on the WhatsApp call. If the vendor refuses, probably best to walk away.

NB you can ask to see a copy of the V5, but most trade vendors won’t release details, pictures, or reference numbers until at least some funds have changed hands, as ‘bad actors’ can use the reference number data for nefarious purposes.

Also, run a google search on the company, or individual, concerned.

Two examples:

google xxx car sales and all you’ll get is their website, nothing else.

google Motodrome and you’ll be deluged with Google’s information on us, (and me personally) including details of our YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, together with our Google reviews etc. Furthermore, our YouTube videos show me personally actually standing in front of the vehicle I’m describing, and yes, that’s me driving too.

I’m not for a minute saying any of the above advice is infallible, and I certainly don’t want complaints from people saying’ I followed your advice and still got scammed’, (which is a sad indictment on todays society where one’s own mistakes are invariably someone else’s fault).

Or perhaps, just buy from a bona fide dealer that’s well-known and has a reputation to maintain?