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Nowadays you’re led to believe that everyone is out for a quick buck. No matter if it’s at the expense of another, innocent party. This type of pessimistic outlook on the world is nurtured in the general public by the news and media. The reality is that not everyone is out to get you, we don’t live in a dog-eat-dog world but there are scam artists who are on the lookout for an unsuspecting victim.
One of the industries in which many a con artist will try their luck is the buying and selling of pre-owned cars. Unfortunately, there are scams aplenty in this game. Sometimes it’s a small lie about the condition of the vehicle or a big racket of finding out the car was stolen. However, big or small, a scam can cost you severely.
The thing with used cars in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban or any of our major cities, is that there are thousands for sale. However, a car is an expensive item that is incredibly easy to purchase and yet costs a ton of money. In and amongst the legitimate car sellers there are scam artists who’ll take you for a “ride” if you let them. And, we don’t mean a test drive kind of ride.
Here’s how to spot a con artist
If there’s anything amiss then there’s something amiss
Don’t makeup excuses for the seller. If you spot their advert but in the pictures of the car they wish to sell the number plates are blurred or blacked out, then be aware. Don’t be afraid to ask why they’ve done that. This is not normal behaviour. Also, if the contact details they supply seem faulty (number doesn’t connect or email address returns with a failure alert) then you should walk away.
If you’re asked to hand over money upfront… Don’t
Con artists are quick talkers and usually are quite good at making you trust them or worse, feel sorry for them. They’ll find a way of insisting that they need a large sum of money for the deposit or even the full asking price to be paid to them before they release the vehicle to you. However, you can be certain that if someone asks this of you, even if they claim it’s because they’ve been scammed themselves, they are trying to scam you. Usually, if they get this right they’ll take your money and you’ll never hear from them again and you’ll never see the car.
Behave in an extremely skeptical way, now is not the time to be polite
If the seller is genuinely interested in selling the vehicle they’ll deal with your questions and skepticism. You should ask questions when the vehicle appears far cheaper than others like it in the market. If the seller is only available at specific times or via only one form of contact (only email or only on their mobile number) then lookout for how their responses sound and appear. Do their stories add up? Can they answer your questions about the vehicle? Also, if they’re emailing or messaging you how is their spelling and grammar? A serious seller will make an effort to clearly communicate with you. They’ll have the answers you need and if they’re an English second language speaker then they’d explain this to you upfront. They should employ the assistance of a family member or friend to help with the communication.
Buying a second-hand car is never easy and you certainly don’t need the added stress of trying to avoid scams. Your safest bet is to work with a reputable car dealership, online or otherwise, and have their sales team assist you.