FRAUD SQUAD

We re­veal some of the com­mon clas­sic car re­lated scams that can be found on­line and how to avoid them.

Classics Monthly - - Online Scams - WORDS ROB HAWKINS

If you use the in­ter­net, there’s ap­par­ently more chance of be­ing a vic­tim of on­line fraud than there is of your home be­ing bur­gled. Per­haps that’s due to the ex­po­sure to the en­tire on­line crim­i­nal world, but it has be­come a ma­jor prob­lem, es­pe­cially where clas­sic cars and parts for clas­sic cars can be bought and sold. False ad­ver­tise­ments, dodgy de­liv­ery deals and equally dodgy de­posits are some of the prob­lems that see in­no­cent peo­ple lose their money.

One of the main prob­lems on­line is the bar­rage of fake email mes­sages that aim to steal your per­sonal de­tails. Known as phish­ing, these mes­sages are sup­pos­edly from your bank, eBay, Pay­Pal and sim­i­lar or­gan­i­sa­tions. They of­ten ex­plain there has been a prob­lem with your ac­count, it has been sus­pended, or you have paid a large amount for some­thing you have not or­dered (usu­ally from abroad). This im­me­di­ately stirs most peo­ple into a panic. The mes­sage will con­tain a link to click on to en­able you to sign into your ac­count and re­solve the prob­lem. Such a mes­sage is never gen­uine (the afore­men­tioned or­gan­i­sa­tions never ask you to sign in via an email mes­sage). By click­ing on the link in­side the email mes­sage, a fake lo­gin screen will open, al­low­ing you to en­ter all of your de­tails ( eg user­name and pass­word). This in­for­ma­tion will be cap­tured by the peo­ple be­hind the phish­ing scam. And once they have your user­name and pass­word for in­stance, they can then go on a spend­ing spree.

So how do you tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a gen­uine email mes­sage and a fake phish­ing scam? It’s not that easy. Fake emails of­ten con­tain spell­ing and gram­mar er­rors, but they usu­ally con­tain stolen com­pany lo­gos, con­tact de­tails and le­gal dis­claimers to help make them look con­vinc­ing. As men­tioned, never click on any links, but if you are con­cerned, log into the rel­e­vant ac­count in the usual man­ner (via the of­fi­cial web­site) and if nec­es­sary, con­tact the or­gan­i­sa­tion to dis­cuss the prob­lem, us­ing their cor­rect con­tact de­tails.

Phish­ing scams are not just found in email mes­sages. Text mes­sages re­ceived on in­ter­net con­nected mo­bile phones (smart­phones) are just as vul­ner­a­ble, so never click on any links found in such mes­sages.

Phish­ing scams are of­ten the be­gin­ning of many other forms of fraud. Steal­ing some­one’s eBay ac­count de­tails for in­stance, can re­sult in an in­no­cent per­son’s ac­count be­ing fraud­u­lently used (hacked) to sell non-ex­is­tent cars and parts. I have been fol­low­ing the sale of a non-ex­is­tent trailer for over a year, which ap­pears through gen­uine eBay ac­count hold­ers who have been hacked. Con­se­quently, the un­be­known eBay seller has a good record, so the sale seems gen­uine. How­ever, the fraud­sters will ei­ther ask in­ter­ested buy­ers to email them with their mo­bile phone num­ber or even ad­ver­tise their own num­ber for you to con­tact them. Their aim is for you to agree to buy the trailer and pay a de­posit into a bank ac­count. As we have dis­cov­ered with the fake trailer sale, the bank ac­count has been opened with fake doc­u­ments, but once the de­posit has been paid in, it is im­me­di­ately with­drawn. The fake seller prom­ises to de­liver the trailer, but never turns up (and there never has been a real trailer for sale).

This ex­am­ple may seem ob­vi­ous, but these fake post­ings are all over the in­ter­net on clas­si­fied ad web­sites and are also be­ing sent to mag­a­zines to be in­cluded in their clas­si­fied

pages. The main clue to the scam is the de­posit, but this isn’t al­ways stip­u­lated. The price is usu­ally cheaper than the mar­ket value, tempt­ing po­ten­tial buy­ers into a bar­gain. Of­ten, the ad­ver­tise­ments have been stolen and of course, the ve­hi­cle or parts don’t even ex­ist. Our ad­vice is to never pay a de­posit, but to speak with the seller and in­sist you visit and pay cash in full. Don’t be pres­sured by the fear of miss­ing the sale.

In some cases, the sale of an item may never in­volve the buyer and seller meet­ing, such as the sale of car parts that are posted to an ad­dress. Here, the fraud­sters have de­vised sev­eral scams, so if you sell car parts on­line, read on. The most ob­vi­ous scam in this in­stance is the non-de­liv­ery of goods. For­tu­nately, track­ing ser­vices can help here and re­ceiv­ing pay­ment via Pay­Pal for ex­am­ple, will en­sure the de­liv­ery ad­dress is cor­rect (pro­vid­ing the ac­count hasn’t been hacked). How­ever, there are more scams to look out for that are not so easy to avoid.

I re­cently ad­ver­tised a set of wheels on Gumtree and quickly re­ceived an email mes­sage ask­ing me to re­move the ad­ver­tise­ment as the per­son con­tact­ing me wanted to buy them. Good news I thought, at first, but the email mes­sage ex­plained that the buyer could not col­lect the wheels due to a heart con­di­tion and could not be con­tacted be­cause of hear­ing prob­lems. In­stead, they would or­gan­ise a courier to col­lect the wheels.

dis­cussed this with Gumtree, who ex­plained that had we pro­ceeded with the sale, the buyer may have sent us a de­posit for the wheels, but we would have had to pay the courier upon col­lec­tion (more than the de­posit). The buyer would have promised to re­fund us and prob­a­bly over pay us for our trou­ble, but we would have said good­bye to our wheels and wouldn’t have re­ceived any more money.

A sim­i­lar scam oc­curs where over­pay­ment is made. If you sell an item and re­quire a Pay­Pal pay­ment, the sup­posed buyer makes a pay­ment that is too much. They ask you to quickly pay the dif­fer­ence into a bank ac­count, be­fore the funds for the first pay­ment have been cleared. The first pay­ment will have been made with a stolen debit/credit card or Pay­Pal ac­count, so all of the money you have re­ceived will have to be re­turned, and you won’t get your re­fund back.

Hope­fully, our ad­vice on scams hasn’t scared you into dis­con­nect­ing your in­ter­net con­nec­tion. In­stead, arm your com­puter with anti-virus and in­ter­net se­cu­rity soft­ware, and never re­act quickly to emails mes­sages, sales or pur­chases. Re­mem­ber, if it sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly isn’t.

The ve­hi­cles ad­ver­tised here on eBay at un­be­liev­ably cheap prices are sadly all non- gen­uine sales. We con­tacted eBay and they con­firmed the images had been stolen and the ac­count hacked.

This scam sale of a trailer was fol­lowed for over a year. The sup­posed seller usu­ally asks for a de­posit to be paid into a bank ac­count that turns out to have been fraud­u­lently opened. The money is with­drawn im­me­di­ately and the trailer never ex­ists.

These are the wheels we tried to sell on Gumtree. We’ve suc­cess­fully sold many items us­ing this web­site, but scam­mers will al­ways try their luck through these on­line mar­ket­places. Here’s the email we re­ceived when we tried to sell a set of wheels through Gumtree. The buyer is lead­ing us to a courier col­lec­tion scam where we have to pay cash to the per­son who col­lects the wheels from us.

Here’s a pop­u­lar phish­ing scam that’s de­signed to get you pan­ick­ing. You’ve sup­pos­edly paid nearly one thou­sand dol­lars for some­thing that you didn’t or­der. Links in­side the email for the trans­ac­tion ID and ex­plain­ing how to re­solve the or­der will lead you to a fake lo­gin page to steal your Pay­Pal lo­gin de­tails.

Scare tac­tics from this phish­ing email threaten to sus­pend a bank ac­count if you do not click on a link. It’s noth­ing but fraud.

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