Listing your car is easy. Keeping your eyes open for clever scammers is the hardest part. Scams come in many shapes and forms, and they almost always involve some level of social engineering to convince victims that they are legit. When it comes to selling or buying a car, you could fall into a well-laid trap set by a con artist and either lose the car you are selling or lose the money you were going to get for the vehicle. The only way to avoid such scams is to educate yourself and always be vigilant about the different methods scammers use so that you can stop the transaction before it proceeds.
How do you avoid getting scammed when selling a car?
- Counterfeit Cheques
This is a common ploy used by many scammers who buy cars directly from private sellers. They entice the seller by offering to pay the full amount quoted or a bit more if the seller is willing to wait a few days before cashing the cheque. These scammers are good at convincing people that they are reputable businessmen and just need some time to arrange for the whole amount to be deposited in their bank account. They also put pressure on the seller to give them the car by making the seller feel like they will lose out on the deal if they don’t close quickly. The seller will only realize that the cheque is fake when he deposits it and is informed by the bank that it is fake. By then, the vehicle is long gone, and it might be hard to retrieve even for the police. Be especially aware of cheques that are given late on a Thursday, as those cheques will only be processed the next business day, which could give the scammer 2 days to get away with your vehicle.
- Online Bank Transfer
Some banks offer a facility where they allow the account holder to cancel a transaction within a set time period and reverse any money transferred back to the account holder. Thus, these scammers will be able to provide proof that the money has been transferred to your account and you will be able to confirm it by checking your bank account. Once you have handed over the vehicle, they generally cancel the transaction, and the credit will be reversed (usually within 2 hours). Misuse of this facility is a punishable offence. It can result in a penalty of up to Dh 1 million and 1 year in prison under Article 11 of the UAE’s federal law that pertains to Combating Information Technology Crimes.
- Test Drive Scam
This is a scam where the scammer approaches you at a time when it is inconvenient for you to be present during the test drive and then sweet talks you into letting them take the vehicle out for a spin on their own. If you do so, there is a chance you may never see your vehicle again. Always be present for a test drive. You must outright refuse anyone who tries to pressure you into letting them drive alone. Also, when going on a test drive with the potential customer, tell them to stick to routes familiar to you and areas where there are other people around. If possible, try and have a friend or relative accompany you, as there is safety in numbers. Don’t let them sit in the driver’s seat without you being present, as they could just drive off with the car, leaving you behind. Also, don’t fall for the “noise at the back of the car” trick, where they insist you get out to check it while they are still in the driver’s seat.
Read More: Tips for First-Time Car Buyers in Dubai
- Avoid Selling Directly
You may not get the price you expected on the deal if you do this, but you definitely won’t have to worry about getting scammed if you sell your car to a used-car dealership like CARS24. Here you are dealing with a reputed company that will take full ownership of the vehicle, refurbish it, and then sell it to a potential customer through the proper channels. It is hard to fool professionals who are experienced in selling cars, and they will ensure everything is in order before the car is handed over to the buyer. You won’t have to deal with potential customers, take their calls, haggle with them, go on test drives, or get scammed. According to police reports, there were many instances where scammers used direct online classifieds to find sellers who had listed their cars themselves. Scammers then get in touch directly and engineer a situation that confuses the seller into falling for their scam.
- Post-dated Cheques
Understand that you are not a financing company and do not have to let a buyer pay you in instalments. Only transfer ownership of the car once the full payment is made in cash. Some buyers will tell you they have half the money ready and can give you post-dated cheques for the remaining amount. They may even tempt you by offering to pay more money for the privilege of paying the remaining amount later, but once they drive off with the car, there is no telling what could happen. If the post-dated cheques bounce, it will be a headache for you to file a police complaint, chase the buyer, etc. Simply refuse such offers outright and you will save yourself a lot of trouble. You can always ask them to get financing from a bank so that you get your money in full.
- International Buyers
Even if it is a tempting offer, it is best to avoid shipping the vehicle to a buyer who lives abroad. Only consider selling a vehicle to a buyer from a different country if you get the full amount credited to your account. If, for any reason, the payment does not go through and the vehicle has already been shipped, it will be tough even for the authorities to help.
- Fake Escrow Account
When two parties are doing a deal, sometimes an escrow account is set up to ensure both parties are protected. But if the escrow account is fraudulent and gets terminated once you complete your part of the deal, you may have to waste a lot of time and money running around filing a complaint with the police and taking legal action.
- Identity Theft
Under the guise of buying your vehicle, scammers may seek information from you that they can then use to target your bank account or use to pull off another scam. Identity theft is a big problem, especially when transactions are performed online. Be suspicious and guard your data carefully. Only provide information that is necessary and even then, only at the final stages of the deal.
In conclusion, being vigilant and aware of the different scams is the best way to avoid being caught in one. Do adequate research on dealerships to understand who is trustworthy before you contact them. Always enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend or relative who can help you with the process. Only transfer the ownership of a vehicle once you have received the full payment.
Shop at CARS24 for the best-preowned cars in the UAE
When shopping for pre-owned cars, save valuable time and effort by shopping on the hassle-free and easy-to-use CARS24 website. Cars sold by CARS24 undergo a stringent 150-point quality check and a thorough refurbishment process before being listed on the site. We also provide a 7-day return policy and 2 years of warranty for every vehicle purchased on the site, ensuring complete peace of mind for all our customers.