Sunday, 13 April 2014

Consumers take for a ride over online car frauds


Last year over six and a half consumers reported they had been the subject of a scam involving on line car sales. This week saw two of these people complaining about a company that has recently been operating under the name of Berenscarsales.co.uk. (I checked and this site has now been disabled) They were speaking with Radio 4 You and Yours presenter about how they both paid out for a car advertised on line which then never materialized. When asked why they both transferred money across to this companies bank account, both paying £7000 each, they had carried out what they felt were reasonable checks and spoken with a salesman on the telephone before payment went out.

Quality kite mark on website was false

The website was very well set up, according to one of the buyers and it also had the Black Horse Approved Dealer logo which she felt meant it was a legitimate site. This is a quality kite mark that Lloyds Bank use with their approved dealers but suffice to say they checked and told You and Yours that Berens was not on their list. Both buyers had checked the registrations of the car they thought they were buying, but a spokesperson from GetSafeOnline said that unfortunately this didn’t mean it was a legitimate sale. The scammers will look around the streets for a car, note down the make etc. and take down the registration number and then put that up as the number of the car being sold.

Not such a Simple Simon

The people who lost their money had seen a classified advert on eBay and contacted the dealer, who came back and gave his name as Simon Mortimer to one of the women and Simon Stubbings to the other. Interestingly, the website which claimed Berens was a family business going back several years, only registered the website on 11 March 2014 under the name Simon Walton. (The address that was given turned out to be a false one.) After discussing details of the vehicle in both cases Simon 1 or Simon 2 just so happened to have a driver delivering a Bentley, or a car transporter going near to both prospective buyers’ homes so would get their car to them free of charge. Of course the car never turned up and as this was a transfer between bank accounts, the buyers were not protected so have lost their money.
GetSafeOnline advice when buying online is to get onto a bus or train or bike or car and go and see the car you are buying. If you have to put a deposit down, then make it a small one and put it on your credit card so you have some protection if it turns out to be a scam. In the meantime You and Yours are asking if anyone else has been conned by Simon Mortimer, Stubbings or Walton and we would like to know too-also if you are a legitimate online car sales company let us know the checks you carry out with your buyers. In the meantime take heed if you are planning on buying a new car on the internet and let us know how you get on – we’re listening!

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