Selling my car and scammers.

I recently got a new (used) car (Vauxhall Zafira) and now am trying to sell my old one (Nissan Primera, 2.0 SLX). The new car is much bigger than the old one and more suitable for transporting the children around with a lot of luggage space and the potential for up to 7 people in the vehicle.

There is an advert on autotrader but so far have not had any sensible replies.

Within a few hours of the advert going online, I received an email that read:

Hello ,

I saw the advert of your listed Car on theAutoTrader webpage when looking across for a good Car for my kid and i felt i should ask if you still have it for sale cos i pick interest in it..If you do have it,pls do let me know the present working condition of the Car,also the lask amount you would want for the Car

Do note that i want this to be a very quick sale as i have to move from UK to a new base now,but would like to complete the Deal on or before then..

So get back to me ASAP and let us get on..

Thanks

This looked a bit suspicious because

  • Very poor English spelling and grammar.
  • Nothing specific in the email relating to the particular car I am selling.
  • Reason for a quick sale seemed suspicious.

I looked at the email headers and noted:

Received: from [41.204.224.5] by web27513.mail.ukl.yahoo.com via HTTP; Mon, 10 Sep 2007 20:21:34 BS

whois 41.204.224.5 showed it to be an IP address in Nigeria. Needless to say, I did not follow this up.

A few hours later, another email…

Hello seller,
I saw your advert while surfing via the internet and
am willing and interested to buy your NISSAN car.
Get back to me via my email if the NISSAN car is still
available for sale.
Are you the owner???
State its condition. send its recent pictures if available.
What is your last offer????
You can also ring me on my mobile: +447024076129
I look forward to read from you about the NISSAN car
soonest.

Best Regards

All the same signs as the previous one… poor English, no specific information apart from the insertion of NISSAN into what is presumably a template. A real buyer would be wanting to know when they could come and see it and take it for a test drive and be asking more specific questions about the car. A whois of the originating IP address was an American ISP.. also not promising for someone buying a car in England! So I have ignored this also and assume it is also a scam.

A search around google found several sites of car buying scams. I think the basic mechanism is that they will say that they need the car quickly and then send you some money, but will send too much and want some of it back. After they receive the money back it will be found that the original transaction was illegal and the bank will take all the money back. I am not sure if they also have a way to get the car as well leaving you out of pocket and without a car (but probably not if the scammers are in places like Nigeria).

I’ll add more scammer examples as I receive them. Luckily I have used a specific email address for this advert so I can set it up to automatically junk things once the car is sold.

Yet another one…

Hello,
Am Thomas from ireland who came acoss your advert ,and who will really like to know if your Car is for sale and the condition of the Car if is in a good condition..And also i will like you to get back to me with the last offer of the the items……………
Best Regards………
Thomas…………….

Why would someone in Ireland be interested in a car in Oxfordshire? Again, lacking any specific information about the car and featuring poor use of the English language. The whois showed the IP address as belonging to Eurosat, so it is feasible that the sender is in Ireland.

And yet another… this is from somewhere in Africa:

Good Day,

How are you and your family today, Meanwhile, I saw your advert on the web for sale. and i will like you to get back to me with the following enquries.

—- The last asking price ?

—- The present condition,including the last asking price ?

—- If any picture is available mail it to me soonest.

Let me know if the car have any problem I will be looking forward to hear from you soonest

Regards

lucas mcnamara

Incidently, all of the emails have come from yahoo.com addresses and sent by webmail.

I’m still waiting to get a single genuine enquiry…

And another…

GOODDAY TO YOU, I AM MAILING TO SHOW MY INTEREST IN YOUR:

YOU HAVE FOR SALE, SO LET ME HAVE SOME PICTURES OFIT BECAUSE I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COME AND TAKE A LOOK AT IT AS AM A BUSY MAN BUT BE HONEST WITH THE PRESENT CONDITION OFIT WHEN GIVING ME DESCRIPTION. I WILL BE PAYING YOUWITH A CHEQUE AND I WILL WAIT TILL THE CHEQUE CLEARSPRIOR COLLECTION. SO GET BACK TO ME WITH THE DETAILS AS BELOW:

1. NAME THAT WILL BE ON CHEQUE :
2. FULL ADDRESS THAT THE CHEQUE WILL BE SEND TO :
3. YOUR CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS :
4. ASKING PRICE:

CONCERNING THE SHIPMENT, I HAVE A DELIVERY FIRM THAT
WILL COME FOR THE PROPER PICK UP FROM YOUR LOCATION
AFTER YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE PAYMENT. SO LET ME HEAR
FROM YOU WITH THE DETAILS FOR PAYMENT REQUESTED ABOVE.
WAITING TO READ FROM YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, HERE IS
MY CONTACT PHONE NUMBER 07024015372 IF YOU WILL LIKE
TO DISCUSS ANYTHING WITH ME ON PHONE.

MANY THANKS
TOM NICOLAS

I think you’d have to be an idiot not to see this one as a scam. Tell-tale features: all in upper case, information about cheques and money transfers, asking for pictures (pictures are in the autotrade advert already). Why would anyone pay to ship what is a standard car? Maybe you could understand if it was a classic vintage car, but not a standard mass produced hatchback!

Final Note: After two weeks of advertising on Autotrader I did not get a single genuine contact. But got 37 scam emails all of similar style to the ones above, almost all through yahoo mail. I also put an advert on EBay-Motors which did get some genuine enquiries, but I ended up selling privately to someone local.

Conclusion: Autotrader online adverts are currently a waste of money unless they can do something to reduce the scammers.

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