Car scams on TradeMe
Once again the criminals who run this type of scam are usually based somewhere like Indonesia or Nigeria - countries where fraud is considered somewhat of a sport. This scam targets sellers and is becoming increasingly common on TradeMe these days. It works like this.
You list your vehicle for sale on Trade. You've spent a bit of time taking decent photos and you're looking forward to linking up with a willing buyer with a pocket full of cash. So far so good!
Your receive a text from a potential buyer (or this could be an email if you have your address listed in the listing). This person would love to buy your car (sight unseen!) but they a little indisposed right now. The excuses get more creative as this scam develops, but look out for something like this...
I am working away from the country at this time as I am a member of the NZ Defence Force which is presently in Afghanistan as part of the PRT
I am a mother of a son studying in Malaysia who wanted to buy the car and ship it to Malaysia
I am offshore at the moment in the Tasman Sea
i work with New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) and we are presently offshore in New Zealand Taranaki Basin on kupe project.We do not have access to phone at the moment,its 20days off and 15days on and that's why I contacted you with internet messaging facility
i am an oceanographer and i do have a contract to go for which starts tomorrow and am leaving any moment from now
This scam can play out in a number of ways but the usual technique involves the scammer sending you "payment" from a fake PayPal account. You'll receive emails which look pretty genuine confirming that the funds are sitting in your PayPal account. But of course these are all fake and just a part of the scammer's long game.
Next the scammer tells you that he/she has deposited more than the value of the car to cover the international shipping costs and asks you to pay the "shipping company" via Western Union. This can amount to thousands of dollars and as soon as you've done this, you can kiss your money goodbye.
Other variations include actual payments being made to PayPal accounts using stolen credit cards - these are inevitablly reversed and the seller loses out. We're aware of people who have lost thousands of dollars to this scam including at least one person who sent their car out of the country and ended up paying shipping fees on top of the loss of their vehicle. This is a cynical and damaging scam.
One or two victims have received follow up threats from PayPal threatening legal action unless they "refund" the scammer. Naturally these are all fake as well. This is a most profitable business for the scammers and you need to be really careful if you get hit with this one.
Spotting a TradeMe car scam
Beware of any texts or emails asking for your vehicle to be sent out of New Zealand, particularly to Indonesia or Malaysia.
If you have been overpaid for any sale then expect the scammer to request a refund using untraceable methods like Western Union. This should set off alarm bells immediately.
If you're in any doubt then please post the full email on our TradeMe Car Scams forum - go to the last page and post a reply. You'll receive good advice from others who have experienced this scam, and by posting the scammer's email you'll hopefully prevent other people from being targetted by the same scam.
Main Scams page