An online car scam is circulating in Victoria, leading many people to fall for fraudulent second-hand car listings. Classified scams trick online shoppers into believing they are dealing with a legitimate seller, but it’s often a scammer.

Victoria Police has alerted the public after eight people lost thousands of dollars when they tried buying a used car advertised on a popular website. The scam involved someone pretending to be a member of the armed forces.

Contrary to popular belief, scams don’t just target older generations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports that people aged 25 to 55 are most affected. So, what should you know before buying your dream car?

Red Flags to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

To help you avoid potential disasters, we’ve compiled a list of telltale red flags to watch out for when buying a used car online. Be cautious about the car-selling websites you visit.

If the Prices Are Surprisingly Low, It Might Be a Scam

The saying goes that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. This is especially true for used car prices. Check similar cars online to get a rough pricing guide and compare potential purchases against this. If the vehicle seems suspiciously affordable, especially given its age and mileage, arrange an in-person inspection. It’s always best to inspect the car in person whenever possible.

Unusually Low Odometer Reading

Scammers often tamper with the odometer or lie about the kilometres traveled, a practice known as odometer wind-back. If the car’s year doesn’t match the claimed mileage, be suspicious. Modern digital odometers are easier to manipulate. Check that the car’s wear and tear match the odometer reading. Ask for the car’s service history to verify the odometer readings, ensuring they increase steadily without sudden drops.

Avoiding Phone Calls

Legitimate sellers should have no issue talking on the phone, while scammers often limit communication to texts or emails. They may pretend to be unavailable or request payment before delivery, using international money transfers, cheques, or direct bank transfers. If you suspect a scam, call the seller’s number with your own number blocked. If the call connects to someone other than the seller, be concerned.

Vehicle Re-Birthing

Vehicle re-birthing involves stealing a car or using a written-off vehicle, stripping its identifying information, and giving it a new identity. This scam can easily catch buyers unaware. Written-off cars can be a safety risk, with issues like non-functioning airbags or faulty brakes. Always verify the car’s history to avoid these dangers.

Buying an Unseen Car

Never buy a car without seeing it in person. Big purchases require due diligence. If you can’t verify the car’s registration and authenticity, you’re at risk of being scammed. While rare cars in remote locations might tempt you to buy sight unseen, it’s risky. Always verify the car’s details before making a payment.

Meeting in a Strange Place

Sellers who insist on meeting away from their home might have something to hide. Meeting at the seller’s home is customary and safer. If they suggest an unusual meeting place, proceed with caution. The car might be stolen, or the seller might be hiding a defect. Worst case, your safety could be at risk.

Quick Sales

Sellers rushing the sale process might be hiding something. They could want you to overlook a car defect or claim they need to sell quickly due to travel. This could lead to a scam where the seller takes your money and disappears. Always take your time to inspect and verify the car before purchasing.

Non-Disclosure of Finance Owed

If a car has an outstanding loan and the seller didn’t disclose it, you risk losing the car. Car finance typically uses the car as loan security, so unpaid loans can lead to repossession. Get a vehicle history report from a reputable source before buying any used car.

Get a Professional Inspection

To ensure your dream car is legitimate and in good condition, have a professional inspector like Greasemonkey Inspectors conduct a thorough pre-purchase inspection. Our service provides comprehensive vehicle inspections on-site in Melbourne, ensuring you make a safe and informed purchase.

If you’re buying a used car in Melbourne or anywhere in Australia, trust Greasemonkey Inspectors to help you avoid scams and find the right vehicle. Check out our Inspection Packages today!

Greasemonkey Inspectors | Melbourne Car Inspection

📞 0481 608 866
📧 support@greasemonkeyinspectors.com
📍 13/324 Settlement Road Thomastown VIC 3074

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *