Tuesday 20 February 2018

Garda warning: Criminals buying and selling cars privately in car parks with fake bank drafts

Unsuspecting buyers out of pocket – one person lost €40,000 on car scam

There have already been 24 cases this year – more than all of 2013 (21).
There have already been 24 cases this year – more than all of 2013 (21).

Gardai have issued a warning on the dangers of buying cars privately.

According to garda figures, 78 cars (out of 79) have been recovered in the last three years after being purchased with fake bank drafts and sold onto unsuspecting buyers for cash.

This year, the number of cases has jumped.

There have already been 24 cases this year – more than all of 2013 (21).

Gardaí are urging those who are buying or selling their cars privately to take necessary precautions before finalising the sale.

In general, what happens is as follows –

Criminals target members of the public who advertise their vehicles for sale on Irish classified websites.

Contact is made expressing an interest in viewing and then purchasing the vehicle.

The criminals also place adverts seeking "drivers wanted” on websites.

The applicants are then asked to meet for an interview in pubs, hotel receptions or car parks. These drivers are instructed by phone to meet prospective sellers to view the vehicles.

The ciminals make arrangements over the phone without personally viewing the vehicle to purchase it using a bank draft. 

This transaction will take place in the evening time, usually a Friday evening, gardai say.

The draft is handed over and the driver receives the vehicle and vehicle registration certificate.

The seller is told the buyer is in the motor trade and given an RF105 (Change of ownership to Motor dealer) form with details of a fictitious garage.

Gardai say the vehicle is already re-advertised on the internet below the market value to attract attention.

It is then immediately resold, sometimes within hours, to an innocent purchaser.

When the false draft is discovered, the vehicle is reported as stolen.

Gardai say, the most important advice they can offer to sellers and buyers is as follows:

- If offered a bank draft, get details of that draft in advance and check it is legitimate with the bank/branch it’s purported to be from.

- Avoid buying a car in a car park

- If the seller is unwilling to provide details for verification, walk away

All the cars that were recovered were returned to their owners, and left the unsuspecting buyers out of pocket – one such person was down €40,000 last year.

Gardaí have been working closely with a number of Irish classified websites such as DoneDeal.ie, Adverts.ie, Carzone.ie and the auto trader to trace the suspects, warn their customers and remove adverts that have been placed.

A garda statement today said: "Gardaí continue to investigate and liaise closely with financial institution and jobs websites advertising for drivers."

"A number of arrests and searches have been carried out, but gardaí hope that the public will take on board the advice to only accept Bank Drafts that are verified by the banks as genuine."

"If they are about to purchase a vehicle themselves consider a method of payment that is traceable."

Gardai have requested anyone with information to contact Garda Crimestoppers - 1800 250025.

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