If you’re hunting for a second-hand car online, don’t believe scammers who claim they are getting a divorce and need to sell their vehicles cheaply.
WA ScamNet has received multiple reports from car-hunters who have enquired about vehicles being ‘sold’ online at a very low price via Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, only to receive a convoluted backstory by the supposed seller about the sale.
Unfortunately, three Western Australians have so far lost $15,620 to this scam in recent months.
How the scam works
- Victims searching for cars online via classified sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree find a post advertising a second-hand vehicle at a very low price, which entices them to reach out to the supposed seller.
- After messaging the ‘seller’ (who is actually a scammer) via the platform, the victim is asked to communicate via email, whereby they’re spun a story about a marriage breakdown being behind the cheap car sale.
- The scammer then insists the buyer will need to organise and pay for delivery of the vehicle as they are in the army and are about to be deployed.
- The scammer sends fake eBay Motors/eBay Buyer Protection emails which state that the money will be refunded if they are not happy with the vehicle.
- The victims pay the money via bank transfer, but never receive the car.
- Because funds were paid via bank transfer without any involvement from eBay, the victim is unlikely to be able to retrieve their money.
How to protect yourself:
- Never hand over personal information to people you do not know.
- Be suspicious if the seller only wants payment via bank transfer – use payment methods that offer some protections like credit card or PayPal.
- Check emails for authenticity – if the email is claiming to come from eBay, go to eBay directly and confirm that the email is legitimate.
- If the price sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Check pictures used in the advertisement aren’t taken from other listings and/or websites (conduct a Google image search).
- Perform a PPSR on the vehicle.
- If you have paid money, contact your financial institution ASAP.
- If you handed over personal information, contact ID Care on 1800 595 160.