54

I was looking to purchase a specific car at autoscout24.com. I found it and I then contacted the car dealer for the next steps. After they provided additional information about the car and I provided my details, I was told that I would receive all of the Dekra documents, the car document and a reference number so that I could check the delivery company's website. I can't prove if these pdfs are legitimate.

The delivery company would send the car to my home without extra charge and I could then test the car for up to three days but for no more than 100km. If the car has any problems, I can return it for free. But, before the car is delivered to me, I have to send half of the money to a bank account that they provided and then the other half if I want to keep the car.

As promised, today I received the email with the signed Dekra documents, the signed car documents, and the reference number. I put the reference (tracking) number into the website that they sent (https://www.dmctransport.co.uk/tracking.htm). All of the car information and delivery details are there. They said, after I complete the transaction, the car will be here in three days or less.

I think this is a scam because the price of the car is too good to be true (it's almost half the price of its market value). The account which I should send the money is located in Bulgaria which is weird because the dealer company is in Germany. The website looks really old. And I'm wondering, why should I pay half the money before I even look at the car?

Also, the car disappeared from autoscout24 after I contacted the dealer.

Should I continue with the transaction, or is there something else that I am missing here?

88

Can I continue with the transaction,

This deal violates at least three of Autoscout24's warnings when buying a car:

  1. "Too good to be true"

    If you should come across a bargain that is far below the standard market price, you should check the offer critically and if necessary take a close friend along. [...]

    "To good to be true?" - It generally is!

  2. Never buy unseen

    Buying a car is not a confidential matter. As a private potential buyer, you should never make a payment without having seen what you are buying (see below). [...]

  3. Do not make any down payments

    Any serious vehicle dealer will confirm to you that no down payment is necessary to reserve a vehicle. [...]

If the dealer refuses to alter the deal to avoid these traps (even if it means more money for them) then it is most likely a scam.

  • The OP indicated a three-day trial period, so if this were legit the car wouldn't be permanently bought unseen. The other two points apply in full. – David Thornley Aug 21 '18 at 17:39
  • 4
    Who is "they"? Autoscout24? – Nic Hartley Aug 21 '18 at 18:40
  • 39
    @DavidThornley That's assuming a car even shows up, and whoever the seller is doesn't disappear with half of the money. – Jeff Lambert Aug 21 '18 at 19:50
  • 5
    @JeffLambert Which -- according to zwiebelspaetzle's answer -- is exactly what will happen. The car probably doesn't even exist. – duskwuff Aug 21 '18 at 20:55
  • 6
    A similar modus operandi was used in scamming people in 2015, 2017 and even this month in India: See timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/… and timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/… – Nav Aug 22 '18 at 3:44
45

I work for a classified listings website. We've seen a similar message sent to users:

Hi again, The process through [x] will be a fast one since the trailer is now at their shipping company with the title , papers and everything ready to be delivered to the potential buyer address.I already paid them a small fee for this and both me and you will be covered by their company.They will bring the trailer to your address so you can inspect it for 5 days and ONLY after that 5 days of inspection you will decide if want to keep the trailer or not!If you agree to keep it you will sign the papers with them and they will release the money to me, if NOT they will take back the trailer and you will get a full refund of money, please keep in mind that you don't have to pay any fees!So if you want to get the deal started just reply back to me with buyer full name, shipping address and a phone # so i can forward them to [x] and they will contact you to explain the payment options and shipping details!The trailer will coming from [x] Thank you

The recipients paid the deposit and lost their money.

I advise you not to go forward.

  • 4
    Although they represent as if [x] is an independent third party, it's the same person (or team) under a false front. [x] will contact the buyer and make everything sound legit, but once the money is transferred everyone just disappears. – GalacticCowboy Aug 22 '18 at 14:01
  • 2
    I'll add that in the case above, [x] was said to be a very well known e-commerce site. They separately emailed a link to a phony payment page upon which they placed [x]'s branding. – zwiebelspaetzle Aug 22 '18 at 14:11
  • 1
    @WGroleau Hey, at least there was an actual car that time! – David Richerby Aug 23 '18 at 14:48
  • 1
    Point #4 for the answer above: never buy a car from an ad with exclamation points in it! – Mazura Aug 26 '18 at 0:59
38

This looks like classic advance-fee fraud.

  1. You get baited with a good offer for an unique item.
  2. They offer you the opportunity to take a closer look at the item, but only if you give them a deposit. They promise that they will give you back your deposit if you do not like the item.
  3. They take your money, but never show you the item or give you your money back.
  4. If you complain, they will bide time until they laundered your money in a way that the transfer can not be reversed.
  5. If you try to take legal actions, your lawyer will notice that the company either doesn't exist anymore, did in fact never exist or is located in some country where legal actions are futile.

Do not agree to this. Anyone who is seriously considering to sell a vehicle will offer you to test-drive the car without a deposit if you travel to them. For a real car dealership, this is more convenient, safer and cheaper than delivering the car to the customer. If you suggest this course of action, then any real car dealer will agree. A scammer, however, will block this request or break contact altogether.

14

This seems to be scam that's quite popular now and I almost fell for a variation of this a few months back. The outline was:

  • Offer seemed really good (not quite "too good to be true" but better than all other cars of the same type and age).
  • I was offered more details by mail.
  • Even though the infos at the sites (I found the same offer on Autoscout24 and two other sites) indicated the owner is near my location, the car was suddenly in another country. ("Owner" claimed to be a nurse only working in my country and the car would be at their home.)
  • They offered to bring the car to me by delivery service so I can have a look. I would then have 5 days to decide whether I want to keep the car.
  • If I agree I would have to pay the full price upfront, they would graciously cover the delivery service cost. If I didn't like the car I could send it back and would get my money back.

It all seemed suspicious and halfway through their name and email changed so that was a huge tell. After googling for the name of said persons I found a site where people discussed this very scam (those particular scammers used the same name for different offers). One or two people even claimed to have fell for it and that they made the payment! Of course the money is gone, no car ever arrived and I doubt they ever got their money back.

So what should you do?

  • Ignore them. Do not write them back, it's just a waste of time.
  • Never ever send money for a car that you haven't seen in person.
  • Please report the offer to Autoscout24 and/or other sites where you found the offer. They know these scams and took the offers down within a few hours.
  • 2
    It can be around £ 1,000 to ship the car and return it across Europe. What kind of business would just throw away this money on a whim of the client??? – Mindwin Aug 22 '18 at 14:08
  • @Mindwin: No business, of course. No car is ever sent (it doesn't exist). The scammers try to transport the message that there is no risk for you and no additional charge, they want to make you think it's an excellent deal for you and want to make you send them your money. – DarkDust Aug 22 '18 at 14:27
  • 1
    The minute I hear "nurse", "soldier", or any other "occupation" that involves travel so can I send them PayPal or whatever is the minute I run the other way. Though if I get enough information I'll share it with abuse@<wherever> or fraud@<wherever>. Then again, I'm not part of their target market. – Wayne Werner Aug 22 '18 at 21:54
12

The other answers have already covered the reasons why this is a classic advance-fee scam. I wanted to chip in to add that the entire tracking website itself (https://www.dmctransport.co.uk/) appears to be an elaborate fake, designed to fool you into thinking that transportation has been arranged for your fictional car.

  1. The website, as you mention, looks old and really crudely put together. However, WHOIS records show that it was registered on February 6, 2018 to a hosting company called Web4Africa. There is zero history of this site existing prior to 2018.
  2. The address listed for the business is a random residential house in Leeds, UK, which is entirely inappropriate for a legitimate shipping company (especially one that claims to have three branch offices in different countries!)
  3. The contact email address is hosted on a totally different domain, transport-dmc.com, which has a non-functional website but a Google Mail mailserver. That domain was registered in January 2018.
  4. The tracking number is implemented by just forwarding you over to an HTML page named "trackNNNNNN.html" where NNNNNN is the number you punched in. This suggests strongly that the page is just customized and uploaded for each scam victim, rather than being properly placed in a database. Indeed, the site appears to have zero dynamic content; there are no functional forms (but a few nonfunctional ones), and multiple pages are named ".php.html".

There are dozens more red flags on that site, but suffice to say it appears to be a copy-paste job designed only to look like a shipping company's website.

Obviously, run as far away from this scam as you can - but hopefully my answer will also tell future visitors why the tracking number itself cannot be trusted.

  • Great analysis. Kinda frightening what scale of scams a couple dozen youtube tutorials on html, css and basic js allows one to run. To elaborate a little, below's the exact script the button runs: – Therac Aug 24 '18 at 18:38
  • 1
    <SCRIPT> function AddFolder() { var nn = window.prompt("Enter your Track Shipment Number: ",""); if (nn != null && nn != "null" && nn != "") { var nn_escaped = "";var nn_len = nn.length; for (i = 0 ; i < nn_len ; i++) {var nn_asc = nn.charCodeAt(i); if (nn_asc > 128) {nn_escaped += nn.charAt(i);} else {nn_escaped += escape(nn.charAt(i)); } } var str = "./track" + nn_escaped + ".html" ; window.open(str, "_center");}} function TogglePersonal() {window.open("ym/Welcome7517.html?pers=1&.done="+escape(document.URL) + "&YY=33204","_top" );} </SCRIPT> – Therac Aug 24 '18 at 18:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.