Christmas scams

Motorists are being warned of a seasonal rise in vehicle crime, with My Car Check urging consumers to be extra vigilant over the Christmas period. According to the car history check company, the upturn in the number of scams is down to the typically quiet time for vehicle sales, which leads to criminals redoubling their efforts to overcome the lull.

Scammers also have more outgoings at Christmas, so they look to boost their income by conning unsuspecting members of the public.


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Roger Powell, head of CDL Vehicle Information Services (which owns My Car Check), said: “When our call centre team talk about ‘the Christmas rush’ they mean the sharp increase in enquiries concerning suspicious adverts and dodgy deals.

“All these scams occur throughout the year but we see big increases during December, so used car buyers need to be extra vigilant. Despite the Arthur Daley reputation, it should be noted that the vast majority of problems are in the private marketplace, not with cars bought from bona fide motor traders.

“Tell-tale signs include lines such as “it’s cheap because I need a quick sale” or “I’ll bring it round for you”, and pressure tactics like “I’ve got another buying coming in an hour”. Our advice is to trust your gut feeling and never pay cash. If you have any doubts, you suspect a vehicle is not as described, or the deal is in any way crooked, contact our call centre team who are trained to spot such things.”

[bctt tweet=”Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.”]

5 common used car scams

  1. Online escrow con: a potential purchaser is informed that the vehicle is currently abroad and will be shipped as soon as money is paid into an ‘escrow’ holding account.
  2. Stolen/cloned vehicles: criminals steal a car and change the number plates to disguise it, so you now have two vehicles with the same superficial identity driving around.
  3. Not theirs to sell: one in four cars on UK roads are covered by a finance agreement e.g. hire purchase, lease, PCP or bill of sale. The provider often retains legal ownership until the debt is cleared in full.
  4. Cash deals in car parks: agreeing to hand over cash at a neutral location will be music to a criminal’s ears. Once they’re gone, they’re usually gone for good.
  5. Sold with only one key: All seems fine but the vehicle only comes with one key. Sometime later the buyer finds their car has disappeared. No prizes for guessing who had the second key.

Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.