Car buyers warned of eBay scam

Emma Woollacott
Gives the car key to new owner
Gives the car key to new owner

Car buyers in Greater Manchester are being scammed by eBay fraudsters, a BBC investigation has revealed.

At least three vendors on the auction site have been passing off stolen and cloned cars as genuine private sales by swapping their details with legitimate vehicles.

A stolen car is given the licence plate and documentation for another vehicle of the same type, along with chassis numbers - which means that even if the buyer runs an online background check, the car appears to be genuine.

Fraudster jailed for fake Ferrari insurance scam

One victim, a retired police officer, says he lost £17,000 after buying a Mercedes from a seller in Rochdale. Graham Murray says he'd been asked by the seller to pay in cash on collection, rather than via the site itself, using PayPal.

He reported the scam to police, who confirmed the car was stolen - but no action was taken.

"It was £17,000 just gone, and I knew there was little or no chance of getting this money back, ever," he says.

Driver finds car with identical number plate next to hers

An eBay spokesperson says the dodgy accounts have been closed down, adding: "Cash on collection is very unusual and we would ask buyers to always pay via the platform when purchasing."

If you are unfortunate enough to buy a cloned car, then you'll lose both the cash and the vehicle - so it's important to do your research.

Most importantly, make sure the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle all match each other, and carry out an HPI check against these and the V5C/logbook serial number and issue date, which can reveal whether your car has a secret history. Several companies, including HPI, Experian and the AA, offer these checks.

PayPal users warned of scam

Don't pay in cash - not even in part - as it makes the seller impossible to trace. Fraudsters will sometimes ask for part-payment by banker's draft and part in cash; but while this might look reassuring, it simply means they're happy with the profit they make from the cash alone.

You could also ask the seller for identification such as a driving licence or passport - if they're genuine, they shouldn't mind.

And, as usual, remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.