Shopping for a car can be thrilling, but wading through ads and promotions from car dealers, and deciding to finally purchase the car, only to find out that you have been the victim of online car scam can be scary and devastating.
Online scams are a big problem in e-commerce and the local car marketplace has not escaped from this distressing activity. There are a number of ways a buyer can be duped or deceived in the process of buying used cars in Nigeria or even a brand new one.
Car scammers always appear attractive so watch it!
Car scams usually rely on gaining the buyer’s trust and then keeping them in the dark about the true history of the vehicle. Some forms of online car scams are very difficult to detect.
If you think you may become the latest "maga" in a car buying scam, keep reading to find out more!
Common types of hidden faults in a scam car
You may have asked yourself, which hidden deficiencies can appear after the car purchase?
There are several types of hidden problems that can be discovered by the buyer after the car purchase has been made or completed. Some of the more common hidden faults are:
- Odometer manipulation or mileage scams,
- Incorrectly stated year of manufacture
- Open Manufacturer Recalls
- Total Damage
- Frame Damage
The questions you need to ask at the onset of any car deal are:
1. How can I find out if hidden problems exist?
While some forms of car scams are very difficult to detect, there are some tips and tricks to uncover hidden problems with any vehicle. It is very easy to ferret out some deficiencies, such as a vehicle's year of manufacture.
Another thing to look out for is the 10th digit in the Vehicle's Identification Number (VIN), which is often found if you look through the bottom of the driver’s side of the windscreen. One can learn about open manufacturer recalls by checking one of the few online databases which post information on recalls (e.g adac.de or kba.de).
Odometer manipulation and damage done to the vehicle from a crash are more difficult to discover on your own, whether it is frame damage or an insurance write-off from total damage.
One tip for analogue odometer manipulation is to check if the numbers are properly aligned in the odometer. For hidden vehicle damage, you can check between the gaps of the body panels, or you can check inside of the doors if the vehicle has been repainted.
Otherwise, you can take the vehicle to a properly trained professional mechanic for a full inspection.
Before and after images of a hastily put together scam car
2. How should I act when I think I have been deceived by car scammers?
If you think you’ve been cheated by car scams, you may be feeling helpless. There are many people who have had similar experiences and there are fraud-expert lawyers dedicated to helping cheated shoppers. Thankfully, you are not alone.
The following advice from a fraud-expert lawyer can help you prepare to take the next steps:
It is advisable to send a formal complaint, including all of the detected defects or deficiencies, to the seller by registered mail.
Obvious defects and other such abnormalities, which, for example, indicate a non-documented repair, should be photographed in order to clarify the facts and the indicated defects.
Agreements relating to the purchase, especially when it comes to the condition of the vehicle, should always be recorded in writing. Since this often does not occur in the eagerness of the sales conversation, another person should always be present, who can attest to any of the seller’s statements.
Ensure that you collect all relevant documentation in connection to the vehicle purchase, including, if possible, a written summary of the events that took place.
By following the above fraud-expert lawyer tips, you may be in a better position if you find yourself fall victim to one of the many possible car scams.
Never take the bait by being in a rush to buy
3. What are the responsibilities of the buyer and seller?
When dealing with car scams, in the case of material defects, the buyer has the basic warranty rights, such as supplementary performance, purchase price reduction, and withdrawal from the contract.
The seller, however, primarily has a right to remedy the defect itself, and this is the above-mentioned supplementary performance. For certain defects, such as incorrectly stated year of the manufacturer or the (inapplicable) “accident-free” vehicle condition agreement, this supplementary performance is for practical reasons, impossible.
Therefore, a reduction of purchase price or a withdrawal from the sales contract may be required.
Once you begin the transaction, it could be difficult to retrace your steps
Tips on how you can tell an online car sale is fake
1. You can find bad reviews online
Check out the seller by searching online for the person’s name, phone number, and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”
2. Sellers try to rush the sale
Resist the pressure. Scammers use high-pressure sale tactics to get you to buy without thinking things through;
3. They can’t or won’t meet you in person or let you inspect the car
Scammers might have an excuse, like a job transfer, military deployment, or divorce, for why you can’t see them or the car until after you have made the purchase.
4. They want you to pay with gift cards or by wire transfer
If anyone tells you to pay that way, it is a scam. Every time. Make sure there is a paper trail for the money. Pay via bank transfer or cheque. Never use cash.
5. The sellers demand more money
This usually occurs after the sale for “shipping” or “transportation” costs. That's a scam alert if you weren't told this pre-sale.
6. The Vehicle Identification Number VIN) doesn’t match the VIN for the car you are interested in
A vehicle history report can help you spot such discrepancies. Always do your due diligence before you purchase a used car.
>>> Save yourself a lot of grief by knowing What to look out for when you buy a car online or offline
Other things to mind
When buying from overseas, NEVER trust a seller or buyer who says that the transaction is guaranteed by eBay, Craigslist, PayPal, or other online marketplaces. These sites explicitly DO NOT guarantee that people using their services are legitimate.
Beware of misrepresentation of vehicle conditions. Make personal checks and verification to ensure that the car you are buying is not damaged or turns out to be a different model than what was being advertised.
Even though you are buying a car online, always meet the prospective seller in public places like shopping malls, public parks, inside societies, at convenient garages, etc.
Consult a car expert before making the purchase.
You can also just make ALL your car purchases from verified car selling sites such as naijauto.com. Naijauto will always do its best to verify that each car listing is genuine, and will always advise you on the usual cautions to exercise when making a purchase.
Naijauto and other car sites like this provide relatively safer buying for car buyers
See more info in the vid below:
7 Car Scams You Shouldn’t Fall For
If you have been on the receiving end of an online car scam or someone you know has been a victim, report the scam to the EFCC or the Nigeria Police. Hopefully, though, this article would have gone a long way to making you scam-proof!
>>> More instructive buying and selling advice here