Your average car buyer is losing thousands of pounds on marketplace scams when they use Facebook to purchase vehicles.
The latest trend involves scammers using stolen photos and videos of genuine vehicles to make purchases seem authentic. The reality is that there is no car waiting for you at the end.
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The latest research conducted from the good people at Santander suggest that nearly £500,000 has been lost to these scams already in 2023. This is a 93% increase in the amount of money lost in the scams since 2022.
The most likely aged demographic of people who could be affected by a car scam is the 18 to 25 bracket. These people make up 20% of all cases in the group, with the over 60s accounting for just 14%.
However, with this being said, the over 60s were the largest loss for this type of scam, estimated to lose roughly £1500 each claim.
Chris Ainsley is the Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander and had the following to offer:
“Scammers are stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from people falling foul of car scams on online marketplaces. But people can help put the brakes on these scams by learning the telltale signs of fake listings and doing due diligence before transferring any funds.
For this particular type of scam, the single best thing anybody can do to protect their money is to not transfer any funds until the vehicle is in their possession, and they have seen it in person.”
How Does the Scam Work?
This particular type of scam is very difficult to spot because on the surface it looks like an authentic purchase. There will be stolen videos and photos advertising the vehicle, so you believe that you are purchasing something real. However, you will then be asked to pay upfront, usually by bank transfer or a third-party application, and then promised to deliver the vehicle to you or have you arranged to collect it. However, once you send across the payment, the and the presumed owners are never seen again.
It’s a very dastardly type of scheme, and it has affected many people already. In response to the issues that have taken place, a report was published by Meta, the parent company which owns Facebook and the associated marketplace, and it had the following to say:
“We recognise our important role in tackling the industry-wide issue of online purchase scams and have systems in place to block scams.
Facebook Marketplace is a local meet up and collection service so we don't facilitate payments or shipping, but scammers exploit this by taking conversations off our platforms where we can't enforce.
We encourage our community to report scams immediately so we can take action and we'll continue equipping customers with knowledge to transact securely and avoid fraud on the Marketplace.”
It’s heavily recommended that users stick to recommended and trusted car purchasing sites, or go direct to a dealer in future.