Criminals looking to scam unsuspecting car buyers are increasingly using social media as a means to achieve their goal.
This is according to a warning issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS), as reported on by BusinessTech.
The SAPS has received several reports in the past week where criminals have defrauded consumers by posting fake car advertisements on Facebook.
The warning said the criminals will usually convince the interested buyer to pay a certain amount of money before the vehicle can be delivered, and once the money is sent, the scammers disappear.
“We request the community to be vigilant, do proper research, and not to rely on social media posts or advertisements when they want to buy a car or any other item,” said SAPS provincial commissioner of Mpumalanga, lieutenant general Semakaleng Manamela.
“Most importantly, people are requested not to deposit or send money to people that they have never met.”
Road safety group Arrive Alive said the techniques and methods used by these criminals often share a pattern.
The following signs can be an early tip-off that you are involved with a scammer :
- Seller is denying test drives.
- Incorrect/hidden vehicle history.
- Identical photos listed on dozens of sites.
- Pricing of the vehicle is much lower than market value.
- Buyer/seller uses a sad story to gain sympathy or encourage the other party to make a snap decision.
- Stranger claiming to have a buyer lined up for your vehicle and asking for a “matcher’s fee” before introducing you to said buyer.
- A buyer/seller using an email address as the only point of contact, and refusing to give more details.
- Unusual financing request from buyer/seller, such as a seller regularly asking for small amounts of money for different purposes.
While these are useful tips to avoid getting defrauded, Arrive Alive said they are not all consumers should be on the lookout for.
“Scams are not limited to the buying and selling process, but also have found their way to acquiring insurance,” said Arrive Alive.
“Victims are targeted via social media and the ghost brokers forge insurance documents, change details on real insurance policies, or even cancel a holder’s policy without their knowledge and pocket the refund.”
The best way to avoid these pitfalls, said Arrive Alive, is to get to know the buyer/seller as well as possible, attempt to talk to them over the phone, check the vehicle service history and VIN, buy from registered dealers, and do not be over-eager for fear of “missing out” on a deal.