On the whole, buying and selling a car online is an easy and safe process. But you should always beware of scammers who try to use the anonymous environment of the internet to rip people off.
Buyers, sellers, and even leasers or renters have lost thousands of dollars to scammers on real estate, rental, fake banking and car websites. In nearly all cases, these scams can be avoided if the buyers and sellers are more cautious. If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Case study: car seller target
One example of a common scam targeted at car sellers is a buyer who offers to purchase (without inspecting) the vehicle and offers to pay via PayPal. Due to them being interstate or overseas, they claim they will organise and pay for a freight company to pick up the vehicle. They will then claim an issue with paying the freight company so instead offer to pay you more and ask you to pay the freight cost into a western union account. The buyer then sends fake PayPal receipts to the seller (you) showing the extra funds. The seller is scammed after they have paid the funds into the account and then find out that the original payment into PayPal was faked.
Case study: car buyers target
A car will be offered for sale at well below the ordinary selling price. When contacted, the seller will advise that either the seller or the vehicle is located overseas or interstate and will ask for an up-front deposit without allowing the buyer to view the car and its condition or research its history. Once the up-front deposit has been paid, the fake seller disappears and the potential buyer has been scammed.
Other known scams include a scammer texting sellers asking questions about the vehicle and asking for a response via email. Call the number that texted you, if you are unable to reach them via this number DO NOT attempt to email them. It is a scam to open a dialog with you.
Please Note: be cautious in dealing with car sellers that are overseas and always arrange to:
Carsguide.com.au will NEVER ask you for personal details. If you receive a communication from 'Carsguide or Carsguide.com.au' that you think is suspicious, contact us immediately and we will advise if it is legitimate or not.
Further advice from the ACCC
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website offers the following tips to avoid being stung:
In addition, here are some specific things to look out for when buying or selling a car online:
Please Note: Carsguide.com.au does not accept money transfers or handle deposits on behalf of private buyers or sellers.