Tuesday 21 November 2017

New Crimestoppers campaign launched as hundreds of car buyers fall foul of online scams

Crimestoppers launch campaign on buying and selling cars safely online Credit: Shane O'Neill
Crimestoppers launch campaign on buying and selling cars safely online Credit: Shane O'Neill
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Hundreds of people are becoming the victims of scams every year when they buy cars online.

A new campaign from Crimestoppers, in association with Carzone and DoneDeal was launched today to help Irish consumers stay safe when buying and selling their car online.

Derek Byrne, Assistant Garda Commissioner said there were 603,000 adds placed on the various sites relating to cars alone, which represents a total sale value of €4.56bn, last year.

Will Saunderson, a Detective Garda at the Stolen Vehicle Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation told Independent.ie that approximately 6,500 cars were stolen a year, and about 60pc of those do get recovered.

"However, 40pc of those cars end up going missing, or they could end up for stolen parts, or exported to foreign jurisdictions.

"But within the cars that we do recover, a significant number now are sold through scams. We have had 212 referrals since November 2014, in relation to forged documents. There are very high quality forgeries that are in circulation that are being used with these stolen cars. The documents themselves do contain a watermark, but it is the incorrect watermark."

He said that when people are holding them, they feel right and look right, but the watermark on the vehicle registration certificates are not the correct ones. 

"The main advice we want to try and ask people is when they are going buying a car, if they are unsure about the documentation, bring your own with you to compare. Look for two keys for the car. Always, the person you are dealing with on the phone, should be the person who sells you the car."

Last year, over 300m searches were carried out on Irish car websites by people interested in buying a car.

The message from the experts is that if the price of the car or vehicle is way below its current value, the "bargain" may indeed be too good to be true.

In addition, the advice is when carrying out a transaction, to make sure you meet people in a public area, preferably somewhere that has CCTV cameras.

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