Spot a scam: using caution on car selling sites

22 June, 2022

RAA’s Car Advice team has seen a recent rise in members being taken for a ride on car buying websites.

Several people have sent us correspondence that shows some car advertisements online clearly aren’t legitimate, and could put buyers in danger of being scammed.

Our Car Advice service  manager Andrew Clark says there are a few things you can do to avoid being ripped off by supposed car-sellers online.

Be wary of irrelevant details

When corresponding with sellers, be suspicious if they’re including details that seem personal and unnecessary.

For example, something like the below should raise a red flag:

Well let me just jump right into it. I just got divorced and the car was awarded to me in our divorce. I have a low price because I want to sell it before April 25th ideally. 

Don’t trust typos

Double check details in online listings, such as the photo of the vehicle versus the year and model the seller claims. We’ve all made an innocent typo from time to time, but in one recent example sent in to RAA, a car was advertised as being a 2008 model when it was really 2018.

Typos could be honest mistakes, but they could also be evidence of a rushed or fake listing that can’t be trusted.

Think twice about complex transactions

Another common theme that has left some of our members puzzled, is sellers proposing a complex plan to arrange cash payment. We wouldn’t recommend going along with any purchase process that resembles the below:

I think I can have it there at your home address within 1-2 working days. You will have 5 days to test and inspect the vehicle, prior to making any purchase. During that 5 days testing period I will not be getting any money.

Only when you give the confirmation to [website] hat you are satisfied with the vehicle and want to keep it, they will release the funds to me…

Got a question about buying a new or used car? Ask our RAA Car Advice team today.