Shopping for a used car? Beware of online scams!
March 04 2016, Richard DesRochers
The search for the best price on the Internet has its limits. If something on the market looks too good to be true, it probably is. Our defense system’s red lights should be flashing.
The modus operandi of most fraudsters is to actually offer you a car at an unbeatable price. The only information available is often an ugly website, a non-functional telephone number or non-personalized email such as hotmail, gmail or other email address that is non-traceable.
The goal of fraudsters is to ask for a deposit of a few hundred dollars to reserve the car or to cover the so-called transport costs.
Tip: Always try the car before you buy it!
Here are some pointers to protect you:
- The seller is abroad, is not available on the phone and would rather communicate with you by email only.
- You are asked for too much personal information, such as your name, address, phone number.
- The seller confirms the price OR should ask the seller if this is their final price.
- Discuss wire transfer, bank deposit, transport and delivery. Don’t make payments or transfer substantial funds to someone you don’t know.
- The seller speaks in English or in French whose phrasing is quirky and unusual.
- The seller says it's urgent, hurry, he needs a quick answer. Never be in a hurry to buy a car - there are plenty on the market.
- The seller may have a surname like Smith, Labonté or Therrien to earn your trust. Don’t be fooled.
The fake customer or buyer
In the case of fraudulent fake sellers, it’s relatively easy to protect yourself, but can also end up with the wrong buyer. He or she poses as a company and sends you a check for an amount exceeding the agreement. The buyer contacts you by mentioning this false error and then asks you to send the difference by a simple transfer of funds. Obviously, as it may take several days before your bank discovers that the check is from fake buyer with NSF, you've been scammed for the difference.
Although this type of fraud is not widespread, mainly because of the vigilance of Internet users and reporting of this type of activity. Make sure that you protect yourself and others by sharing only relevant information online. Don’t hesitate to contact the police in case of doubt.
In summary, the City of Montreal police department of reminds people that "Any transaction should be in person in a specific place" and that certified check is the safest payment when buying car owner. In all cases, the most reliable way to buy a used vehicle is at a car dealership!