Car Buying Scams To Avoid

By: Motor Easy
car buying scams to avoid

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a car, you have to be wary of potential scammers who’re looking to take advantage of potential victims. The general advice is, when it comes to buying or selling a car, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

So which are the most common types of vehicle scams?

Virtual vehicle scams

As the use of online selling and buying increases, the virtual vehicle scam has quickly become the most popular vehicle scam. For buyers, the car you’re looking to purchase may be placed on a well known trade website but doesn’t actually exist, and is in fact an ad that has been cloned from elsewhere.

So what do these scams look like?

Usually the advert will feature a vehicle which is in high demand, with a lower than average mileage and a slightly below price tag. You may think to outsmart the scammers by carrying out a HPI check, but these scams will usually use a vehicle which is HPI clear. 

A usual trait is the scammer will ask the buyer to contact them directly, therefore bypassing any safe website messaging platform. Once the conversation has been opened, the scammer will request for bank details and a deposit, and once they have these details they can empty your account.

What can you do to stop this?

  • Never transfer money to anyone without having seen the car first.
  • Unless you’ve seen the car or personally know the seller, never purchase a car from an overseas seller
  • If you feel unsure about buying privately, consider purchasing through a reputable dealer.

Vehicle matching scams

This scam type affects car sellers - but how do they work? Fraudsters approach owners who are selling their cars and promise to falsely match their offering with definite buyers.

The seller will be cold-called whilst their advert is live, with an individual calling to claim they have a potential buyer who is an exact match for their vehicle. All the seller has to do is pay a matcher’s free up-front prior to the buyer being introduced and the sale is completed. However, there is often no buyer and the contract with the vehicle matcher cannot be cancelled, so money is lost.

What can you do to stop this?

  • If you’re cold called and asked for money in advance, stop and think how genuine this is.
  • Don’t give your bank details to anyone you don’t know
  • Don’t be pressured into selling quickly

Fake mileage scams

Changing a car’s mileage is becoming harder to do on modern cars, but instances of fake mileage scams are on the rise. The scam seller will alter the odometer and sell the car with false documents to give the impression the vehicle is clean and has no previous issues.

A car with an altered mileage will not only go for a higher selling price, but may also come with serious issues which aren’t obvious at first purchase. An older car is bound to have more issues than a newer model, and some sellers might even go to the extent of turning off important warning lights. 

What can you do to stop this?

  • Always get a HPI check before purchasing a used vehicle
  • When viewing the vehicle, check the car itself for signs of wear and tear
  • Buy from a respected, well known dealer


If you're looking to buy or sell a car, why not check out our carefully selected partners. Motorway offer a quick and hassle-free way to trade your vehicle with reputable buying agencies, who compete to guarantee a price for your car.

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