Car buyers warned of scams ahead of plate change

As buyers look to purchase 2022 plate vehicles over the next few weeks an influx of used cars will come to market. Although this often provides a great opportunity to get hold of good quality stock buyers are being warned to be vigilant of the common scams in operation that could be used to defraud them. Below we signpost some of the warnings out there in the ether. These risks can often be mitigated by purchasing a full vehicle provenance check.

Conversion fraud

This type of fraud has become more common as a higher proportion of cars sold are financed or leased in the UK. Where the fraudster obtains a car on finance and sells it, without settling the finance agreement, they are selling ‘out of trust’ and committing fraud. The problem for the buyer is that the car belongs to the lender and once found they will look to repossess it. For more information on this type of fraud please see a previous blog we wrote here.

Written off vehicles

Bristol Street Motors has written an article warning how individuals have been caught out by purchasing Category C written-off vehicles from shady private sellers, and provides some useful guidance to car buyers. This practice can be profitable for fraudsters who will buy written off cars very cheaply, not repair them properly and attempt to hide the fact they have been written off to prospective buyers.

Virtual vehicle fraud

Over the various Covid lockdowns you could only buy cars remotely. Since then the new normal has resulted in the vast majority of car dealers offering a remote selling option and focusing more on digital sales. But buyers must be wary of who they are buying from when finding the car they are looking for online. Where virtual vehicle fraud occurs it is very likely the car is not even for sale, rather an image taken from another website. The fraudulent seller will quite often look to communicate only by e-mail and seek to extract as large a deposit as possible with promises of the vehicle being delivered once the money is received. See further information from the Honest John website. Never pay a deposit before seeing the car in person!

Vehicle mileage fraud

Commonly known as ‘clocking’, vehicle mileage fraud is where a vehicle’s odometer is adjusted to display a much lower mileage reading in order to increase its value. This leads to potentially serious safety concerns if the vehicle has been used significantly more than what the odometer suggests. If identified the vehicle will also be worth much less than what was paid for it. The good news is that the Government is currently consulting on bringing in new offences for the use of tampering equipment and odometer adjustment. Currently it is relatively easy for anyone to purchase mileage adjustment equipment or services in the UK. Although manufacturers have implemented measures to prevent clocking in newer vehicles there are still vulnerabilities and older vehicles are more at risk. Under Trading Standards guidance dealerships are required to undertake mileage checks as part of the due diligence they undertake prior to selling stock.

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