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Aussies tipped to lose over $1m in car-based scams

  • April 28 2021
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Aussies tipped to lose over $1m in car-based scams

By Cameron Micallef
April 28 2021

Bargain-hunting Australians are being lured into car-related scams, with scammers posting fake in-demand cars at below market value, the consumer watchdog has warned.

car-based scams

Aussies tipped to lose over $1m in car-based scams

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  • April 28 2021
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Bargain-hunting Australians are being lured into car-related scams, with scammers posting fake in-demand cars at below market value, the consumer watchdog has warned.

car-based scams

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning Australians about a vehicle scam where sellers use sites including Facebook Marketplace, Autotrader, Car Sales, Car Guide and Gumtree to claim payments for vehicles they never deliver.

The new technique scammers are using is claiming to be part of the defence force.

In 97 per cent of reports received this year, the scammer claimed to be in the military (Navy, Army and Air Force), telling the victim they would like to sell their vehicle before deployment.

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ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said if the price is too good to be true, it should be a warning sign for buyers.

“If a classified ad offers a vehicle at a very low price, the ad might not be legitimate. For example, one Scamwatch report noted a listing that advertised a car for nearly $10,000 below its market value to entice buyers looking for a bargain,” she said.

Australians have already lost more than $288,000 to vehicle scams in the first quarter of the year.

“As secondhand car sales increased during the pandemic, unfortunately so did vehicle scams. If current trends continue, Australians could lose much more to vehicle scams this year than the $1 million lost in 2020,” Ms Rickard said.

“We want to raise awareness of these scams to reduce the number of people who may be vulnerable to them.”

Vehicle scammers often seek payment via a third-party website, with the ACCC warning sellers who demand payment before delivering the vehicle raising potential red flags.

A large number of reports to Scamwatch mentioned the use of escrow agents, a third party who is supposed to ‘hold’ the money from the buyer until goods are received, before releasing the funds to the seller.

In addition to losing money to vehicle scams, around 20 per cent of consumers who reported vehicle scams have lost personal information, after providing their address, phone number and copies of their driver’s licence to the scammer. To protect your identity, never provide your personal details to someone you have only met online.

“Fortunately, over 80 per cent of people who reported vehicle scams to us managed to avoid losing money by identifying the scam early. We encourage consumers to trust their instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Ms Rickard said.

Aussies tipped to lose over $1m in car-based scams
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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