What Sort of Car Scams and Fraud Do People Commit?


While most car transactions go ahead without any unforeseen issues, there always remains a possibility that fraud can take place, meaning it’s always important to remain vigilant.

Buying or selling a car can be a daunting prospect, especially as such a transaction will often be extremely valuable. So, it should go without saying that you should always be aware of the potential car scams and fraud you could be subject to if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Of course, it is important to be aware of what car scams and frauds exist so you can avoid them in the first place. However, it is just as important to know what to do if you’ve been unlucky enough to fall victim to a scam, including the actions you can take to recover your losses and where the CPS needs enough evidence to charge someone who has committed fraud.

Here, we discuss some of the most common car scams and fraud people commit in the UK so you can be sure your transactions are safe and secure. Be sure to read on below to find out more!

Types of Car Scams You Should Be Aware Of

Mis-Sold PCP

Buying a car on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) is an increasingly popular option for anyone who is unable to afford the full asking price for a new or used car. It works by allowing for someone to pay an initial deposit, followed by monthly payments. Depending on the terms of the agreement, a final ‘balloon’ payment may be required to buy the car outright.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with PCP, as it provides an accessible route for buying a car, there are various risks which need to be taken into consideration – the chief among which is the threat of being mis-sold PCP.

Anyone who offers a PCP car finance deal (lenders or dealers) has a range of legal obligations that must follow. This includes informing you, the buyer, of exactly what is involved in the deal, what they are allowed to do, and whether they will receive any commission from the sale.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently conducted an investigation into PCP deals, discovering widespread evidence of mis-selling, with various types of deals being affected.

If you suspect that you have been mis sold PCP, you can speak to a legal professional who will be able to review your case and advise whether you might be able to make a claim.

Number Plate Cloning

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cloned license plates, which are leading to UK motorists being wrongly penalised.

Number plate cloning, also known as car cloning or vehicle identity theft, is where a fraudster copies a car’s registration number and assigned it to another car. There has been an increase in the number of number plate cloning cases, partly due to the rise in the number of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

It may be possible to tell if a license plate has been cloned by checking the plate matches the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the registration number on the vehicle log book, or by getting a detailed vehicle check.

If you believe that your vehicle’s number plate has been cloned, it’s important that you collect as much evidence as possible, and contact both the police and the DVLA.

Vehicle Matching Scams

A vehicle matching scam (or car matching scam) occurs when a fraudster calls someone shortly after they have placed an advert to sell their car. The fraudster then claims to have found a buyer for the car, asking for an upfront ‘matcher’s’ fee before they introduce you to the buyer.

The reality is that there is no ‘buyer’, with the car remaining unsold and the refund not being paid back. It has been previously estimated that that those selling cars lose nearly £3 million a year via vehicle matching scams.

Avoiding vehicle matching scams centres around being careful and sceptical about any cold callers who are asking for money in advance of securing any deal. If something is too good to be true, it usually is.

Mystery Buyer

A similar scam, the mystery buyer scam, involves someone responding to a car advert by pretending to be an overseas buyer who is interested in buying. Such buyers claim to have a shipping company ready to take the car and are ready to pay you via an online payment service.

From here, the scam can take place in one of two ways. The first may involve the scammer paying for the car using stolen credit card information, before claiming they have overpaid you and asking you to refund the difference. They then withdraw the original, plus the difference, leaving you out of pocket.

The second is likely to involve the fraudster paying for the car using a money transfer service and having it collected. After this, they may launch dispute proceedings, using buyer protection policies to claim they never received the car.

‘Clocking’ Scams

A car clocking scam is extremely simple, yet it can cause significant financial loss. Clocking is the practice of artificially altering a car’s milage. This, someone could reduce the milage on a car, raising its value.

This means you could buy a used car that has more miles on the clock that you had believed when you purchased it, meaning you will lose out on your investment.

It’s incredibly important that, when you’re buying a used car, you check the milage on an old MOT certificate, as well as the general service history.

Are You Concerned About Falling Victim to a Car Scam?

In this post, we’ve discussed some of the most common, and potentially costly, vehicle scams you could fall victim to. While these scams have the potential to be very damaging, so as you’re careful and carry out due diligence prior to any transaction, this will reduce the chances of becoming a victim!

Are there any other car scam which you believe others should be on the lookout for? If so, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts!


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