Beware of Car Scams

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The next time you see an unbelievable deal, scrutinise it  closely. If you are buying a car, do not pay a cent before you are able to (1) inspect the vehicle and (2) confirm that the seller is the rightful owner. Also, make sure to read the bidorbuy Buying Help, Tips for Buying, Buyer Protection Programme, and Terms and Conditions.

A car scam recently surfaced in the bidorbuy car classifieds section. The seller lists a high-value vehicle at an unbelievably low price. When a prospective buyer makes contact, he or she receives an email message purporting to be from bidorbuy, with the following information:

“The seller require the payment for this item to be done through Western Union money transfer because it is his only way to receive the money in United Kingdom.“ The seller then gives detailed instructions on how to complete the transfer, with the explicit injunction that the buyer “must declare it a personal transfer (you will tell to the agent from Western Union that you are sending money to a friend of yours)”.

The message from the scammer proceeds to inform the prospective buyer that “the seller has a R70,000 deposit in an bidorbuy purchase protection account”, promises a delivery within three days from the date of payment and  a ten-day money back guarantee. “You are buying from an bidorbuy seller so if something goes wrong or you are not satisfied with the item you will receive your money back in maxx 24 hours”, the message adds soothingly.

The message ends with the call to the prospective buyer to engage in a live chat with a “bidorbuy” representative.

So, what is wrong with that?

In short, everything. Here are some salient points:

  • The scammers’ return email address is usually a web based address, for example @hotmail.co.uk, @gmail.com, or @.live.com. All legitimate bidorbuy emails are sent from @bidorbuy.co.za domain. Always check the sender’s email address.
  • The scammers want you to pay by Western Union, usually to an address outside South Africa. The very mention of any cash transfer services (Western Union, MoneyGram, etc) should set off a peal of alarm bells ringing. Always proceed with caution when cash or wire transfers are involved.
  • The scammers claim that bidorbuy has R70,000 (or some other amount, depending on the value of the transaction) in its purchase protection account. bidorbuy never holds anyone’s money in trust.
  • The scammers talk about delivery. bidorbuy is never  involved in deliveries or any other selling or post-sale procedures.
  • The scammers provide a link to a bogus bidorbuy live chat site. When you chat with bidorbuy, your browser should display this URL: http://www.bidorbuy.co.za/livehelp/livezilla.php.
  • The scammers possess poor language skills.

On top of the “official” email, the fraudulent seller will probably contact the prospective buyer with a vague or complicated story. Usually, he or she is abroad, the car is somewhere where the buyer cannot inspect it, and the seller is the middle of a divorce, and so on and so forth. The seller will also try to push you into making a payment quickly by telling you that several other people are after the same vehicle.

To anyone who has taken even a cursory look at the bidorbuy Buying Help, Tips for Buying, Buyer Protection Programme, or Terms and Conditions, it will seem unbelievable that any one could ever fall for a scam of this kind.

It will probably seem unbelievable even to those who never read the mentioned (and highly recommended) materials. For who would ever seriously think that a car alike, for example, a 2009 Toyota Hilux 3.0 D-4D Doublecab 4×4 can be had for R60,000?!

Alas, people have fallen for it, and probably will in future too, because in our gullible (greedy?) scramble to secure a good deal, we all tend to forget the most basic of all guiding principles: our own common sense. 

The next time you see an unbelievable deal on bidorbuy, or for that matter anywhere else, scrutinise it  closely. In case of car classifieds, do not pay a cent before you are able to (1) inspect the vehicle and (2) confirm that the seller is the rightful owner. If you cannot, summon the strength to walk away from the deal, no matter how sweet it seems.

You may also ask more experienced users for help on our Forum or  write to our customer support at hello@bidorbuy.co.za. Do remember to do that before you make any payments.  

Also see: the bidorbuy blog post Mind who you chat with.

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