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Buying a used vehicle – the risks

Buying a used vehicle – the risks

Mark Ranola -

We all buy a number of used cars during our lives and this is a process that usually occurs without any problems, however, when it does go wrong, the consequences can be quite severe.
Only this week I dealt with a young couple who had purchased a car that was stolen. They lost the car because it was seized at a cost of £7,400,00 (the money they paid) and we left to find their own way home. In addition, they were fortunate they were not arrested, because this may have happened too.
The car activated an ANPR road camera (Automatic Number plate Recognition) and the data showed it was a stolen car. This is because the ANPR is a system which stores data and the camera reads number plates that pass it and it will alert the police to information that is stored – in this case that the car was stolen.
This car had been purchased through a car dealership with the use of a fraudulent credit card and an unknown man collected it. The car was then advertised for sale on one of the main car sales website and the young couple responded to the advert and agreed to meet a person who told them he was the owner.
A location was agreed to meet for the buyers to view the car and the deal was arranged there and then, with the car being paid for in cash.
The man they met had the log book (V5 document) from the DVLA but his details would not have shown on the V5 document because the car was shown to be in trade, which means the dealership are selling it and the former registered keeper will still be shown.
The price paid for the car was very reasonable, so this attracted the young couple who were keen to buy the car.
The lady was driving the car last week and the ANPR camera activation alerted a police patrol that the car was stolen, so she was stopped.
Fortunately, when I dealt with the matter by speaking to the officer who had stopped the car, which was in a different police force area to myself, the lady had her driving licence on her and she appeared very genuine, so it was quickly established that she was not involved in the initial fraud, however, if the circumstances were different, she may have been arrested so that she could be questioned about the fraud and her home may have been searched for evidence relating to the fraud ie: cards or other vehicle documents relating to other stolen cars.
So in this case it was not something that led to her arrest, but the car was seized and she had to make arrangements to be collected and of course, the couple no longer have a car and unless the person who they received the car from is traced, they have lost a large amount of money.
Buying a car for cash is very risky; it is done because often you can buy it for a lower price, but you have no protection. In most cases where a credit card or bank transfer is used, the bank will reimburse the loss if you have been a victim of fraud.
Meeting a person on the street is also a bad idea. At least if you go to someone`s home, you know where they live, otherwise you leave yourself open to frauds such as these. The man gave them a false name and address and the phone number used to phone for the advert no longer connects, so it was probably a SIM card used in a cheap pay as you go phone, so there is no ability to trace who uses the phone.
When buying a used car from a private seller, or even from a small independent business, make sure you meet at the home or business location. The V5 document should have their own name and address on it showing they are the registered keeper and never pay cash – offer to transfer the money via a bank transfer. If the seller cannot provide bank details for this purpose, you need to consider the transaction too risky buy paying cash.

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