Car buyers are increasingly using the internet to research their next used-car purchase, making sure that the model, colour and marque which they want is available.
Unfortunately, despite seeing a photo and being sent documentation, fraudsters are conning buyers into releasing money to offshore "shipping" companies – and then buyers find that they have bought a virtual car!
"We are urging used car buyers to be just as vigilant when buying online, as they would be using any other method," explains Nick Lindsay, director of HPI, the independent vehicle checking site that customers can use to find out if the car has HP or finance outstanding.
"A number of customers have been victims of online fraudsters, paying for vehicles that the seller claims is with a shipping company. These criminals are usually operating in Portugal, Spain and Eastern Europe and use fraudulent credit cards to make HPI Checks. Having obtained the DVLA details of genuine vehicles they have seen for sale they then go online themselves to sell phantom cars they don’t even own."
For buyers who can not travel to inspect the vehicle for themselves, HPI advises them to find a friend or expert who can conduct a proper inspection of the vehicle before releasing the funds.