Everyone is spending more time online- including criminals

Criminals are using Covid-19 as an excuse to sell vehicles to people without letting them view it in person first.

In North Wales there have been a number of reports in which people try to buy a campervan or other vehicle online and it has turned out to be a scam, with one person paying £5,500.

In the cases that have been reported, victims have seen vehicles for sale on buying and selling sites, such as eBay, and are told that they can’t view the vehicle in person due to Covid-19 restrictions. The seller asks for a deposit or full payment to be sent and the vehicle will be delivered. The amount is paid but the vehicle never arrives. In some cases, the victims then tries to get in touch with the seller but gets no response.

Without viewing the vehicle in person first, it makes it easier for scammers to trick you and sell vehicles that do not belong to them. Not only could you lose out financially, but scammers could also use these transactions to gain your personal details too.

Please consider our advice before purchasing a vehicle online:

  1. Be cautious buying a vehicle without seeing it in person.
  2. Be wary of sellers using the Covid-19 outbreak as an excuse for not allowing you to view a vehicle.
  3. Do not pay funds directly into a bank account provided by the seller.
  4. If you are asked to pay a deposit do so via the PayPal app or website – do not click on links sent via an email.
  5. If using PayPal do not use the ‘friends and family’ option as you will have no protection if the sale goes wrong.
  6. Take your time and don’t be rushed into making payments.
  7. Search online to see if the vehicle has been advertised elsewhere or if others have identified it as a scam.

If you think you have been affected by a vehicle scam, report it to your bank and the site you bought it from immediately and tell Action Fraud too.

Advice and guidance on how to protect yourself, or your business, from fraud and cyber crime is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-fraud-and-cyber-crime. There is bespoke advice about COVID-19 fraud on the Action Fraud website.