Common car scams

Where ever there is large amounts of money at risk, unfortunately scammers are never far behind. On this page I am going to explain to you, the most common scams in the car industry.


Deposit scam

This is one of the most common scams and every year many people get caught out by it.

This scam is very simple, the scammers aim to take a large deposit from you, before you view the car, once you paid it and you want to go collect the car, guess what it doesn’t exist.


How scammers will entice you, into handing over a large deposit is simple, they will advertise a car that is very popular and have it advertised a lot cheaper than the average price. When you call up to enquire, they will make up some nonsense about them getting loads of calls and they have someone coming to view it.

To prevent the buyer from buying their car, the scammer will say “send me a deposit and I will secure the car for you”. Most of the time they will pretend to be a company or even worse mimic another company, making you believe this sale is genuine.

The bank account they will ask you to transfer the money into, will never be the company name they claim to be and almost every time it will be a personal name.

Never send a deposit over before you see the car and never transfer it to an account that does not match the business name.

Quite often you will see two adverts for the same car, one being the scam and one being a reputable dealer. The scammer will use the same photos as the genuine add, but the order will be different.

If you see the two adds, simply call up the more expensive one and simply ask why, they have it advertised cheaper. Once you done this, the dealer will tell you that it’s a scam, then report the add to be removed.

Hear is a list of points, to save you from being scammed

  • Why is the car thousands of pounds less than any other equivalent car?
  • Why do they only have a mobile number?
  • Why won’t they let you view it before you send a deposit?
  • Why is the bank account in a different name to the company?
  • Why is the advert price different to the price on their website?
  • Why has this car got two different adverts at two different prices?


Fake PayPal receipt

This scam involves you being the seller. This scam is very simple, you will have a car for sale and you will get an enquiry for your car. The interested buyer will not even try to haggle you, or ask to many questions about the vehicle. The buyer will say he’ll take it and ask if he can pay by pay pal.


Once you say you will take payment through this, you will get an official looking email, from an email address that appears to be PayPal. The email will state you have been paid. The scammer will then ask to collect the vehicle, or get you to deliver it to an unusual place, like a supermarket car park. Once you handover the vehicle and sign the logbook over, you have lost the car. The only way you can attempt to get it back, is to contact the Police’s fraud department.

Here is a list of points, to save you from being scammed

  • Why did they not haggle you?
  • Why didn’t they ask many questions about the car?
  • Why do they only want to pay through PayPal?
  • Why do they want it delivered to an odd location?
  • Always check you PayPal account not just the email.


Getting robed for your cash

Thankfully this scam is getting a lot less common, but this scam has to be the worst. This scam involves you being the buyer.

This scam is very simple, but very effective. The scammers will, advertise a car that entices you. You speak to the buyer and they will only want payment in cash (cash is a pain in the ass and in large amounts is difficult to pay into a bank, so why would someone want to be paid in cash?).

The seller will convince you, to bring a large amount of cash with you to buy the car. You arrange a time to go view the car, the scammer will know you have the money with you. You will meet in an odd place to buy the car, like an empty car park, then the scammers will simply rog you at knife / gun point for your cash.



What makes this the worst scam on the list is, the level of violence involved and some people have been severally injured by the scammers.

Here is a list of points, to save you from being scammed

  • Why do they want to be paid only in cash?
  • Why are they so insistent on you bringing cash with you?
  • Why are you meeting at an odd place?
  • Tell the seller you not brining any cash, you simply just want to view the car.


Vehicle Matching Scam

This scam is simple, it involves you being the seller. A company will cold call you and say they have buyers lined up for your car. They will simple charge you a “matching fee”. This fee is for putting the buyer in contact with you, kind of like an estate agent.



When you pay for matching fee, expecting a buyer to contact you, this never happens, as it was a lie in the first place.

Sometimes they will even get a fake buyer to contact you, say his interested and he will never show up to buy the car.

Once the money is paid and the contact is in place, any money you have paid is lost and you can’t get it back.

Why would someone who is interested in your car, that can view it online, go through a broker to get in contact with you?

Another part of the scam, is to obtain your credit / debit card details. Never give your card details to someone you don’t know.

Here is a list of points, to save you from being scammed

  • Why would a buyer not get in contact with you, if they can view your advert online?
  • Never give you card details out
  • If its to good to be true it probably is


Car dealer pretending to be a private seller

Sometimes a dealer will advertise cars as a private seller, the reasons behind this, is so the dealer, can sell a vehicle without providing a warranty and responsibility.

The main reason why a dealer would do this, is because the car may have some serious faults, that you will not discover until after you have purchased it.

You will be surprised how many dealers do this. How to catch them out, when inquiring about the car, simply ask “is the car still for sale” and if the person answers “which one”, this is most likely a dealer, as most private sellers don’t have more than one car for sale.

dealers which are good at this, will have a different phone number for the car being sold privately, so they will know exactly what car it’s about, associated to the number.

I have know some dealers, to have up to 5 different numbers for this scam.

Another way to catch a dealer out doing this, is they will most likely, sell it from somewhere that is not their house and the address won’t match the one on the logbook. Check the name on the logbook to, as it will most likely not mach the name of the person selling you the car. If the name and address don’t match, it’s most likely a dealer.

If you open the logbook, to the second page on the top right corner, there should be a yellow trade section, if this is missing, it means it has been sold to a motor trader and the person showing you the car is most certainly a dealer.

Here is a list of points, to save you from being scammed

  • Does the address match, the address of where the car is being sold?
  • Does the name of the seller match the name on the logbook?
  • Does the seller have more than one car for sale?
  • Is the yellow trade section of the logbook missing


If you have been scammed or think someone is attempting to ,contact the citizens advice bureau for free advice.