A new scam that sees unsuspecting private car buyers sold hire cars by crooks has been revealed. We’ve already warned of the danger of buying cars that are really owned by finance companies. Now car check experts are warning of unscrupulous crooks hiring cars for the day from rental firms and using them to fleece unsuspecting used car buyers.
Car buyers sold hire cars: How it works
Criminals will hire a popular car from a rental company and use that car’s details to make up an advertisement which shows the car for sale at an attractive price. Potential buyers responding to the advert are asked to meet at the seller’s home to view the car, lulling buyers into a false sense of security. When they have a few unsuspecting customers lined up, the ‘seller’ then hires the car for a day. Buyers, sucked in by the low price, are asked to leave a £1000 deposit and collect the car later in the day. When the buyer returns they’ll find an empty house, no seller, no car, and no deposit.
Car buyers sold hire cars: How crooks look genuine
The car’s price will be low enough to be attractive compared with other second-hand examples of the same model but usually not too low to arouse buyers’ suspicions. The criminal will have a plausible back story – for example a new job with a company car forcing the sale, or a move abroad – and buyers feel reassured that they think they know where the seller lives.
Car buyers sold hire cars: How they’re not caught
The criminal’s house will be a short-term rental property that’ll be used for the day. The credit cards they use for the house and car will be recently stolen or fake. By the middle of the day, well before the time buyers are asked to return to collect the car (scammers usually catch out several victims), the crook will disappear, taking the deposits with him.
Car buyers sold hire cars: How to beat the crooks
The best way to ensure the car you’re buying is neither a hire car nor has outstanding finance against it is to do a vehicle history check with a reputable company. The firm that uncovered the hire car scam is HPI. Managing director Neil Hodson said: “We’ve heard of a number of instances whereby consumers have fallen prey to the rental car con. The fraudsters go to quite some lengths to pull this scam off.” Before handing any money over, Neil advised: “Always ask to see the V5C logbook and MOT certificate. If they can’t produce them, walk away, no matter how convincing their story is.” See how to spot other scams here.
Car buyers sold hire cars: Lessons to learn
Just because someone is selling a car from their house doesn’t mean it’s their home. Making something appear more desirable by making it seem to be in demand is the oldest trick in the salesperson’s book and it works for criminals too. Remember the old cliché: things that appear too good to be true usually are. Used car buyers should follow these eight essential checks before handing over money for a second hand car.