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Car scams on the rise in the UK – Here’s how to avoid becoming a victim of the crime

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Car scams online are on the rise claims new report (Image: GETTY)

Motorists are being warned to be aware of car scams circulating in the UK this summer.

There is reportedly an increase in the number of online vehicle scams circulating this summer.

My Car Check, which holds comprehensive data on every vehicle on UK roads, has warned buyers about a number of things they should be aware of before making an offer.

1. Is the vehicle being offered for substantially less than other similar models?

If the average value of a car you are interested in is £5,000 and you suddenly see one for around £2,000, then this could be a red flag that it is fraudulent.

Even if it is a legitimate vehicle you have to question why it is being offered for so low, as it could have a number of expensive faults that need fixing.

When buying a used car, being able to check it out before you buy is essential as you may be able to find issues with the car that were not stated in the advert.

This can also help outline the criminals as if they refuse to give you a visual on the car beaver the transaction takes place it could also be fraudulent.

2. Does the number ring out or go to voicemail, prompting you to ‘email the seller’?

A criminal is unlikely to answer your call as it could give out information about them to the buyer to be used later.

3. Are you then offered a vehicle that is abroad but can be ‘shipped to you’?

This should be an obvious warning to you as you cannot see the car before purchase and you are relying on the word of a stranger that it will be as advertised.

Offering to ship a car from abroad works in the favour of a crook as it puts a more fluid timeline on the delivery time of the vehicle.

Mark Bailey, Head of CDL Vehicle Information Systems, which owns mycarcheck.com, said: “The sheer volume of online scams is off the chart this summer, with seasonal favourites like convertibles, camper vans, and motorhomes being targeted.


Criminals will try and entice drivers in with a too good to be true deal (Image: GETTY)

“The staff at our Glasgow call centre speak to used car buyers every day, often when they’re about to transfer money, so we have our finger very much on the pulse when it comes to the latest scams.

“From early this year we saw a significant rise in fraudulent online adverts, but from May onwards it really ramped up, not only for the usual cars, vans, and bikes but for plant and agricultural vehicles, every sector you can think of.

“Sophisticated con artists, often operating in organised criminal gangs, can create scam adverts very quickly and on an industrial scale, even setting up whole fake dealer websites.

“At first glance, they look realistic; they cut and paste wording from genuine adverts and add features like make and model searches to appear more convincing.

“If you encounter any of the above, and certainly all three in order, it should serve as a red flag that you are being lined up. The best advice remains: If in doubt, walk away.”

In addition to motorists being targeted online by scammers, there has also been an increase in the amount of keyless entry theft taking place across the country.

The relay car hack sees crooks use a pair of radio transmitters to trick the vehicle into thinking the key is present, allowing the criminal to gain access to the vehicle and drive away.

Here are a number of security tips for drivers with keyless entry systems:

1. Contact your dealer and talk about the digital features in your car. Have there been any software updates you can take advantage of?

2. Check if your keyless entry fob can be turned off. If it can, and your dealer can also confirm this, then do so overnight.

3. Store your keys away from household entry points. Keeping your keyless entry fob out of sight is not enough – thieves only need to gain proximity to the key to amplify the signal.

4. As well as keeping the fobs out of sight and away from the front of the house, they should also be kept in some kind of Faraday cage or pouch which will block the signal.

These are inexpensive and can be purchased easily online. Some reports suggest that wrapping the keys in tinfoil or storing the keys in the microwave could be temporary fixes, but it is advisable to just invest in the Faraday case.

5. Be vigilant. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighbourhood – and report anything unusual to the Police.

6. Review your car security. Check for aftermarket security devices such as mechanical locks and trackers, which are proven to deter thieves.

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