Virtual Car Scam Victims Risk Losing Cash Via Online Payments
HPI Emphasises Risks Of Paying For Cars Online
HPI has warned car buyers that paying online might not protect them from the “virtual car scam”. The con is simple. The “seller” advertises a high-end car – that has sensible mileage and plenty of service history – for a small sum of money. He justifies the rock-bottom price by explaining he wants a fast sale as he is moving house or having a baby, etc. Once the crook has selected his victim, he claims that the car cannot be viewed prior to sale as the parties live too far apart. The criminal then offers to ship it closer to – or directly to - the buyer. The victim therefore transfers the payment online believing he is protected by the service provider if there is a problem. And there is a problem: the car does not exist. The criminal has simply created an online advert using generic photographs and terms. Worse still, the online payment might not be returned by the service provider as it was sent voluntarily. It was not, in contrast, taken without consent via a different type of fraud. Finally, by the time the buyer exposes the scam its perpetrator has vanished. Needless to say, even if a car exists – even if it sounds fantastic – even if the seller is totally convincing – never purchase without an inspection.
HPI Representative Discusses Virtual Car Scam
Phil Peace, HPI's Operations Director, said: “Online payment systems offer many protections, but these are designed to prevent fraudulent transactions. This is leading some consumers to believe that if they use a system like Google Wallet they will be protected if they fall victim to a scam, such as the virtual car scam. The problem is, if a buyer transfers money over to someone willingly there is little that can be done about it”. Mr Peace added: “Buyers would never walk up to a person selling a car on the street and give them thousands on the promise of a car - so why would they do this online? All a criminal selling a fake car cares about is getting the money from the buyer, and then they disappear.” The HPI representative concluded: “Buyers need to be wary of online sellers and remember that seeing is believing. Never part with the money until you’ve seen the car and even then, get it checked.” And that is good advice.