Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland couple lose almost £5,000 in 'Swedish' car scam

Northern Ireland motorists have been targeted again in a car buying scam, leaving one family thousands of pounds out of pocket.

The Co Down couple, who paid £4,850 by bank transfer for a  Ford Kuga, have lost their money and have no car to show for it.

Earlier this year Trading Standards heard from three consumers who had lost some £13,000 between them. The correspondence by the seller in all these cases was virtually identical except for details of the cars advertised.

A TSS spokesman said: "Ads are appearing in local newspapers and car sale websites for vehicles at exceptionally keen prices.

"The seller engages in very convincing dialogue with prospective customers solely by text and email. They claim to be selling their car privately having returned to Sweden after long term working in Northern Ireland and no longer wishing to own a right hand drive car. Promises are made of a safe payment method and delivery through a third party logistics company. It is all very plausible."

In each case a link was sent to the consumers that opened up a specially created website for the fake logistics company. This highlights how scammers are targeting unsuspecting people by using increasingly sophisticated and manipulative tactics.

Trading Standards Service was recently able to advise a consumer from England before they nearly parted with their money in a similar scam. The consumer had become increasingly suspicious of the seller and their refusal to allow them to inspect the car because it was in a cargo shipping container.  TSS discovered that the vehicle storage depot in south Belfast, where it was supposedly stored, did not exist. Furthermore examination showed the website the consumer had been directed to was fake, as was the company represented on it. To help push this “private” sale the seller had even emailed the consumer with copies of a driving licence, bank statement, a utility bill and company details - all of which were false.

Bill Malloy, Trading Standards Service, said: “Follow the old adage. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be rushed into sending off money to someone you do not know, however plausible they might sound and even where an approach is personalised.”

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