At Mobile Mechanic Stafford we’ve been checking used vehicle since 1938 and we’ve certainly learned a thing or two in that time. Our MOT TESTING centre in Stafford receives over 600 calls a month from customers who are in the process of changing a car and we’re pleased to offer as much help and advice as we can. On a recent visit to the MOT test centre recently we heard from Rob who told us about the thousands of pounds that UK consumers are losing every week thanks to a scam that’s doing the rounds on classified websites up and down the country. It’s called the ‘Ghost Car’ scam and Will took some time to tell us about how unsuspecting car buyers are being duped on a regular basis.
What is a Ghost Car?
Ghost cars are vehicles that were at some point genuinely advertised for sale. The fraudster or ‘Ghost Broker’ will copy the details given in the genuine advertisement (including the pictures) and re-advertise the car (usually with a stolen credit card) at a knock down price pretending that they are the owner. These ghost cars can be abroad or in the UK. The asking price is usually a lot less than the average ensuring that there will be a lot of interest from a number of prospective buyers in a short period of time. Indeed it’s normal for a Ghost Car Scam to be identified and removed from the website it’s advertised on within a matter of days so be wary of any cars that have been advertised within the past 24 hours. The sellers usually present themselves as a woman or elderly couple. They only communicate through e-mail or text messaging and once they have gained your trust and a deal is nearing completion they will ask for a deposit or delivery fee. This is what the fraudster is after.
You will be asked to transfer the money into an Escrow account, directly via Western Union or possible even to a Google Wallet account. The buyer is told when this has all gone through, the car will be delivered, but of course it never is.
If you’re unsure of a used car listing that you’ve come across you should contact the owners of the classified website it’s advertised on and ask them if the sellers contact details can be confirmed. Rob has put the following Top 5 Tips together to help you avoid losing thousands on a Ghost Car scam.
Rob’s Top 5 Tips
It’s normal for a Ghost Car scam to be identified and removed from the website it’s advertised on within a matter of days so be wary of any cars that have been advertised within the past 24 hours. If you can only contact the seller via e-mail and text message – be careful. A genuine seller will market their car to you with enthusiasm over the phone, whilst encouraging you to come and view it. It can be an indication of a fraud at work when the seller of a ‘bargain car’ will not communicate over the phone. There should be no reason you can’t view the vehicle. Even if the car is abroad, you should state you will come and see the car. A genuine seller will appreciate the distance you are willing to travelling whereas the fraudster will make numerous excuses as to why you can’t come and view the car.