West Midlands Police are warning local residents of a car buying scam which is running in the region.
CAR BUYERS are being warned against classified ad scams which have seen several purchasers pay large deposits for bogus vehicles.
Police are investigating up to 12 incidents in Coventry, plus others in Solihull and Birmingham, where buyers have handed over up to £500 to secure a car – but then later discovered the advert to be a con and that the car was never actually for sale.
On two occasions people have even paid the full purchase price before discovering the scam..
Most adverts have appeared in specialist car buying publications and have referred to Mercedes-Benz, Toyotas and Minis.
All the cars – which range in price from £1,400 to £3,000 and with average mileage for their age – have appeared under a fictitious trading company name, not a private seller.
Police are warning anyone replying to classified car ads to be wary and not hand over any money until they’ve viewed the vehicle, met the seller in person and are satisfied everything is above board.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Cath Dell from the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Would-be buyers are calling the ‘seller’ on a phone number listed in the advert. They have then spoken to a man with an Asian accent who’s claimed interest is high in the vehicle and a deposit is needed to secure the vehicle.
“Victims are transferring amounts ranging from £50 to £500 to various bank accounts and arrangements are then made to collect the vehicle at a named location – often in Birmingham or Solihull.
“Buyers have later discovered that often these addresses don’t exist and they’ve never seen the car or their money again.”
Enquiries are underway into the bank accounts that are receiving the deposits and police are working with specialist car media to highlight the scam.
DC Dell is also keen to hear from anyone who may have been affected by the scam in order to establish the extent of the issue. She can be contacted at Coventry’s Chace Avenue Police Station on 0345 113 5000.
Birmingham West and Central Police