OFT clamps down on vehicle matching scam

| May 29, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has declared that “time is up” for vehicle matching rogue traders who cost UK consumers an estimated £3 million a year.

Last year, Consumer Direct, OFT’s advice service, received 1,600 complaints about vehicle matching scams, although the real number of victims is believed to be far higher.

Victims are targeted when they place an advert for their car online or in a newspaper or magazine.

A fraudster calls them up and ‘guarantees’ a buyer for their car as long as they pay an upfront fee of up to £100 before the sale is completed.

There is usually no buyer and the victim loses their fee.

Peter Stratton, Trading Standards Institute’s motor trade expert, said: “High-pressure selling, alongside cold calling, makes this a very successful scam, often leaving the consumer with little chance of obtaining redress.”

Car sales websites, including Auto Trader, Exchange & Mart, eBay, PistonHeads, and motors.co.uk have been told by the OFT to display prominent warnings to car sellers about vehicle matching scams.

Mike Haley, OFT director of consumer protection, said: “Time is up for rogue traders who attempt to cheat sellers with false promises of a guaranteed buyer for their cars. We are working with the industry and enforcement partners across the UK to crack down on scammers who are preying on consumers during the economic downturn.”

Last year Consumer Direct received a record 68,000 complaints related to used car sales, ranging from defective parts to stolen or cloned goods.

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