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Detectives issue advice to stamp out online vehicle fraud

Posted on 7th April 2014

Police are issuing advice to protect Derbyshire residents from falling victim to online vehicle fraud as part of their Stamp out Fraud initiative.

Detectives have teamed up with Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council as part of a countywide drive to Stamp out Fraud. The initiative aims to offer advice and raise awareness of different types of fraud to protect people living in Derbyshire.  

According to recent statistics from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Get Safe Online, fraudsters stole an estimated £17.8 million from victims of online vehicle fraud in 2013.

Fraudsters used the following methods to steal their victim’s cash: 

  • Part or full payment for the vehicles and then loss of contact with the “seller” accounted for nearly half (49%) of frauds;
  • More than a third(37%) of cases involved the payment of a deposit rather than the full amount;
  • Bank transfers (58%), fake eBay Invoices (14%) and fake Google Payment Systems Invoices (12%) offering non-existent "buyer protection" for the transaction were the most commonly cited payment methods;
  • Some victims paid funds to holding accounts on the basis that funds will be held until the buyer has received the goods and is satisfied with them.

Detective Inspector Rob King, Head of the Derbyshire Economic Crime Unit said: “The internet has made buying and selling vehicles much easier, but this report highlights how fraudsters are finding new ways to target their victims online by offering deals that seem too good to be missed.

“Last year more than 6,600 UK residents reported online vehicle fraud with an average loss of £4,078 per victim. Thankfully there are steps that we can all take to stay safe when shopping for a vehicle online.

“Firstly, if a deal looks too good to be true then it probably is, so if a vehicle is being offered at a much cheaper price then it could be the sign of a scam so check the current market valuation.

“I would urge residents to always meet face to face with the seller and inspect the vehicle and its documentation including the log book, MOT certificates and service history, before handing over any money,

Sam Diamond, Head of Communications at Gumtree.com added: “Classifieds websites like Gumtree provide a free and easy way to find a second-hand car. But as with any high-value items for sale, there will always be fraudsters looking to take advantage of innocent buyers.”

Other advice for safe buying online includes:

  • Pay for the vehicle when you physically collect it from the seller. Never send money abroad or to a ‘payment protection’ service.
  • Check the mileage appearing on the milometer matches its service history and old MOT certificates. On analogue milometers, ensure the numbered barrels line up. Check the general condition matches its age and supposed mileage.
  • View the vehicle at the seller’s home and check the address is the same as the one listed on the registration document (V5C). Ensure that the seller is the recorded keeper; otherwise they may not be legally entitled to sell the vehicle.
  • Check that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the same as that on the V5C. This number is commonly found on the chassis, on the windscreen or on the floor by the driver’s seat. Check that this has not been tampered with.
  • Get a car history check to find out whether the vehicle has been recorded as stolen, written off, scrapped or is subject to outstanding finance.

If you think that you have been a victim of this type of fraud call 101, the non-emergency for Derbyshire police. To report a fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.