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Scammers targeting the used car market in Australia

Used car buyers and sellers are the latest targets of scammers as they made half a million this year from their deceptive schemes.

The internet has made it easier to buy and sell used cars. Scammers are now employing new tactics to fool Australians into handing over their money to them.

Over 180,000 used cars were sold in Australia in April this year, and it’s expected to continue growing.

Reports from The Herald Sun with information from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed that scammers made off with $500,000 from January to April this year through online swindling, including used car sales.

While this seems high, it’s less than the $800,000 they scammed people during the same time last year.

Data from the consumer watchdog revealed that scams from social media, particularly on Facebook marketplace, contributed to Aussies losing $95.3 million last year.

The ACCC cautioned people about the common ways that scammers are using to deceive used car buyers including pretending to be defence personnel who want to sell their vehicle before deployment or divorcees wanting to rid themselves of cars awarded in a settlement.

Sellers have been asked by fraudulent buyers to arrange and cover transport costs, only to be ignored when following up on being reimbursed.

Forums online are littered with stories of used car buyers being told they can’t inspect a car they’re interested in before paying a deposit and those who’ve paid for a car without viewing it only to realise that the car did not exist.

There are few protective options for sellers in Australia and the only measure they can take is to be vigilant. However, buyers have greater tools at their disposal to protect themselves from falling victim to dodgy dealings.

Victoria launched the VicRoads Vehicle report which includes information about a car’s transfer and registration history, previous roadworthy results, recorded odometer readings, and safety and emissions ratings. This is a win for used car buyers which offers more transparency when dealing with the online space. The report also includes an official Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) certificate which will confirm if the car has been stolen or written off and if there is any finance owing on it.

The NSW government has a free odometer reading tool that lists the last three annual odometer readings of any car in the state, registration history and if the car has ever been written off or stolen. This tool can be found on the Service NSW website.

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