Over the last few years Junk Mail has done a lot to keep Junk Mail users informed about the various scams that are out there. We have posted various warnings on the Avoid Scams section on the Junk Mail website. We’ve also posted blog posts about scams on the Junk Mail blog under the Safety & Security section.
We’ve posted a warning about the scam featured today on the Junk Mail blog. You can read the previous post at this link. However, the previous post focused on fake adverts on Junk Mail and other classifieds websites in general. The scam we’re focusing on today is the so-called Fake Vehicle Scam.
How this scam works: A scammer places a fake advert for a vehicle for sale. In 99% of cases this advert is placed with a photo. The scammer sets the price for the vehicle to a value that is below market value for it (in order to get maximum response from honest prospective buyers). In most cases the scammer uses a non-existing / random phone number on the advert (to force the honest potential buyer to respond via e-mail). The scammer will use an e-mail address that is created via a web-based e-mail service (like @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @rocketmail.com, @yahoo.com, @yahoo.co.uk, @live.com, etc).
Once the scammer receives a response from a potential buyer for the vehicle he / she will respond with some sad story about being in the UK / being a photographer for National Geographic / being in another city in South Africa / or anywhere out of the country. There are many variations of this response. At this point the scammer will inform the potential buyer that they are unable to use the phone and that they can only converse via email.
In a variation of this scam, scammers who operate via their mobile phones will claim that you are the lucky buyer of a vehicle with a ridiculously low price.
In both variations, the scammer will either ask for a holding deposit or an amount equal to the full price of the vehicle to be transferred to them. In some cases they’ll request the potential buyer to make a payment via a third party (another website / international banking / accounting service).
Once they’ve received the potential buyer’s money they will create an excuse as to why they cannot release the vehicle to the buyer or stop conversing overall. In some cases they’ll ask for more money.
Eventually the scammer will break all contact with the potential buyer. The potential buyer will never receive the “vehicle” and will be left deprived of their hard-earned cash.
How to spot a Fake Car Scam Advert: The Junk Mail team removes Fake vehicle adverts as soon as reports are received from Junk Mail users (who report scam adverts via our “Contact Us” page or via the “Report Advert” function which is provided for every advert on the website). Junk Mail also has moderators who check for fake adverts on a regular basis.
When attempting to buy a vehicle via Junk Mail you might be dealing with a scammer / fraudster IF:
- The vehicle advert sounds to good to be true.
- The vehicle is not available in South Africa on the general market.
- The vehicle advert contains a photo which gives of some kind of European feel to it or if the vehicle in the photo is left-hand drive vehicle.
- The phone number displayed in the advert is not working or if you reach someone who knows nothing about a vehicle for sale when you dial the number.
- The advertiser claims to be in a foreign country or has some other story which could be in the same line as a Nigerian prince requesting that you launder money for him. This correspondence could contain broken or very bad English (similar to the English found in phishing e-mails)
- There are multiple versions of the advert with different phone numbers and similar photos and the advert is posted in various regions
- The advertiser only wants you to respond via e-mail and is not willing to meet face to face concerning the sale of their vehicle
- The e-mail address that is being used for advert correspondence has been created on a web-based e-mail service like @gmail, @yahoo, @hotmail, @live, @rocketmail, @ymail, etc. E-mail addresses like these can be created in less than 5 minutes online.
- The advertiser is demanding up front partial or full payment for the vehicle.
- The advertiser is demanding that you make use of a third party website (like Ebay, BidOrBuy, BikeFind, etc) or a third payment payment service (like Moneygram, Western Union, Bank of America, Barclays, Paypal) to pay for the vehicle. Fraudsters copy forms from these institutions websites for their own fake documentation.
- You request to view the vehicle and the advertiser keeps on dodging the question
- You ask the advertiser technical things about the vehicle and they are unable to respond with precise details
If you come across a possible scam advert, please make use of the “Report Advert” option that is provided for each advert on the website. You can also report the possible scam to Junk Mail Customer Care via firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone on 012-3423840 x2295 (during office hours). If a member of the Junk Mail team does not respond via one of these channels, you can also notify us about a scam on the wall of the Junk Mail Classifieds Facebook Fan page or by mentioning your query to @JMClassifieds on Twitter.
If you have any comments / suggestion regarding this, please comment on this post. Feedback on this post is appreciated and welcome. Please share this post with your fellow Junk Mail Users / Friends to make them aware of this scam