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?


More than once, I’ve had an enquiry asking “you’ve got so and so for sale – how come it’s also advertised on (a well known auction site*) for far less money, somewhere else but with the same photos?

Even after patiently explaining that the other ad is obviously a scam using cloned photos and description, more often the hard-of-thinking are disgruntled when they can’t buy it from us for the price in the scam advert.

Such scams are reaching industrial levels on said ‘well-known auction site’ who don’t seem to be too bothered by it in my opinion, despite it doing little for their reputation.

There seem to be at least two ways of parting people from their money, as follows:

A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) has run his own business for years, is usually pretty astute, and has an ‘eye for a deal’. However he’s not really experienced in the ways of the WKAS as I’ll now call it. He spotted a Toyota Hilux on there that seemed to be at least £3000 under the normal price. The seller had zero feedback and was a new user. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but can be a good indicator, especially in the light of what followed.

The listing had a phone number in it, and seemed to be relatively local. My friend phoned the number, and listened to a great story about how this Hilux had belonged to the vendor’s Dad, who had recently died – he’d been left with it and just wanted rid of it. For £7000.00, my friend could have it if he paid for it by bank transfer that day, and collected it the following day. Smelling blood, as apparently the vendor ‘sounded a bit thick’, my friend countered with an offer of £6000.00, which, praise be, was accepted with alacrity. Bank details were provided, funds paid, and arrangements made to collect from an address the following day.

Needless to say, on arrival, nobody knew of the seller or the Hilux, the phone number was dead (probably a burner phone) and my friend, rather chastened, was (and as far as I know still is) £6000.00 out of pocket. Presumably cloned photos and descriptions were involved here. This type of scam, for this amount, is quite rare. The more common one is as follows:

Browsing the WKAS myself over the past few days, I’ve noticed at least 100 classic car auction listings that are obviously fake, and all seemingly from the same hand. . The M.O. here is to hack into someones WKAS account by obtaining their password, impersonate them, price cars very low, and say they can be secured with a £500.00 deposit via PayPal. The adage that you can’t con someone who’s not greedy or gullible’ is never truer. It must be a very lucrative business – (certainly more so than actually selling cars at the moment). I would share a couple of links but it’s pointless as they’ll be dead within days.

However, the following (genuine but obviously sent for nefarious purposes) email came into us yesterday:

Vehicle Purchase Charlotte Clarke

Hello there,

I came across your vehicle listing on eBay couple of days ago. 


I`ve been searching for one of these vehicles for almost a month now.

I do have some questions : 

– Do you have a copy of the HPI certificate that you could send it to me ? (the car shows finance on the report i did it online)

–  I would like to view the vehicle and test drive can you give me a time as I work full time and have to book time off . Would it be possible tonight 8:30 PM ? 

– Can you tell me the name of the garage the vehicle was last serviced at ?

– Can you confirm the vehicle mileage ?

As soon as you get back to me i will prepare the funds and give you a call in the evening to pay a deposit. Do you take credit cards ?


Charlotte Clarke

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

The link therein is to a facsimile of the WKAS’s log in page. We also had 2 ‘I want to buy your car’ texts yesterday in a similar format. It’s always tempting to reply suggesting the sender f***s off, but it’s far more sensible to just delete them. I strongly suggest you don’t, but, If you type your user name and password into the screen that pops up if the link is clicked, hey presto, ‘Charlotte Clark’ has control of your account.

‘Charlotte Clark’ would then reroute your associated email account so you wouldn’t get notifications of altered or new listings, and reroute any associated payment accounts, and is then free to do with your well-established account and reputation as she wishes.

Another well-known adage: ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’. That doesn’t apply to these prolific WKAS listings. If something is too good to be true in the internet age, it most certainly is.

*just in case their lawyers are reading.