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Watch out for ‘virtual car seller’ scam, warns HPI

Published 08 October 2013

Car history check provider HPI is warning buyers about a ‘virtual car seller’ scam, which allows criminals to make off with the payment for a car without ever delivering the car itself. The ‘seller’ will list a top-of-the-range car online with an irresistible price, claiming the sale is urgent.

Should a buyer enquire about viewing the car the seller will claim they are a long way away and that viewing is not possible, but that the car will be delivered. Following payment via an online system like Google Wallet, the seller will make off with the money without delivering the car, if it even exists.

HPI warns that buyers who think their purchase is secure because of protection through Google Wallet will find that it isn’t if the car doesn’t exist, and so will lose a substantial sum of money with no way of getting it back.

Phil Peace, Operations Director for HPI commented about online money transfer systems: “These systems offer similar security measures offered by banks, designed to prevent your money being taken without your knowledge or consent.

“The problem is, if a buyer transfers money over to someone willingly, there is little that can be done about it. Online transactions are so fast and easy now, that by the time people realise they have been duped the sellers are long gone, leaving the buyers with a fictitious car for their money.”

The lesson is to never buy a car without seeing it and to ensure the seller and the car itself are legitimate. Car checks like those offered by HPI allow buyers to chack whether a car has been stolen or has any outstanding finance. HPI also offers guarantee of up to £40,000 that the information it provides is accurate.  

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