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A used car purchase requires a careful buyer


Here at Autodealer we run a successful print and online platform where consumers not only read the latest news and reviews surrounding the automotive industry but also purchase vehicles from dealers and in some instances, private individuals. A legitimate platform with dealers and other sellers is one way to prevent headaches for buyers however; these con artists are getting very good at what they do.

I received a rather alarming mail the other day from a lady who attempted to buy a used vehicle but was a victim of an elaborate con from a fraudster who lured her in with the promise of a good deal. Perhaps she contacted me because the very name of the brand that I work suggests that I will be able to help her, anyway, I digress. These confidence tricksters will do anything to try and secure some money or personal information from you. Gone are the days of these people using bad grammar and overly-complicated tales of how they need you to hold on to millions of dollars for them from a Prince in a foreign land.

These days their stories seem perfectly plausible, and the amount of money that they request is often reasonable. The example that I will use comes from the person who was scammed and promptly mailed me. The seller that she wanted to buy the car from requested a small amount of cash from the buyer to secure a road worthy for the vehicle as this person allegedly had no money for the inspection. The fact that this person wanted close to R2000 for a simple inspection should have raised some alarm bells however the biggest mistake that the buyer made was not finding out any  personal details from the buyer, or even attempting to view the vehicle before transferring the money.

I was just grateful that she didn’t pay for the entire car to be honest. It was definitely a hard lesson learned for one of our readers. The purpose of writing this piece is not only to rant about my personal experience but also to raise awareness surrounding these scams and prevent as many people as possible from falling for the same tricks. Here are a few tips that will help you when buying a used vehicle from someone.

  • Get the details- The easiest way to ensure that you aren’t being scammed is to get the seller /buyer name and basic information. There should always be a way for you to find this person, whether it is a legitimate address, a verifiable ID number, contact number or any other details about the buyer/seller that will allow you to get in touch with them or track them down if need be.
  • Make sure the vehicle is real-This sounds pretty obvious but seeing is believing so make sure that you view the vehicle and check that it is registered to the seller. A full background check of the vehicle in question should be obtainable from the seller or from the OEM that serviced the car. The service history should also match the vehicle mileage on the odometer.
  • Do the checks-Also ensure that the Vehicle Identity Number (VIN), chassis number and engine number are all correct and belong to that particular vehicle. When viewing the vehicle ensure that you take someone with you or notify a loved one of your whereabouts for safety purposes. Try to meet the person in a public area where they will feel less inclined to try any funny business.

These are just a few simple precations that you can take that may save you money or prevent you from finding yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. Stay safe out there and remember, if it sounds too good to be true or your gut is telling you to walk away, just walk away. We are in a buyer's market, there are many vehicles for sale, so take your time and find the right car and deal for you.

Article written by Sean Nurse
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