Safety & Security Stay safe! Avoid online classified scams
Our admin staff at Driveit.co.za always scrutinize / review new ads for potential fraudulent content before they go live on the site, but it is inevitable that some of these duplicitous ads still slip in the system. Always be cautious and alert when considering making a classified transaction and be sure to let the other party know that you will not take any risk under any circumstances.
The users of Driveit.co.za have great success with buying, selling or trading cars and other vehicles with others, but unfortunately fraudulent adverts is a sad reality of the online classified communities. While the Internet offers a lot of convenience, the ‘faceless’ nature of doing business online can also enable scam operators to defraud buyers and sellers. Fraudsters sometimes use popular classified websites such as DriveIt, to deceive individuals looking to buy or sell cars or other vehicles by posting fraudulent ads. Take note that classifieds scams can target both buyers and sellers who use classifieds websites.
Buyers should beware of scammers who pose as genuine sellers and post fake ads on the Driveit.co.za website. These fake ads can often be easily spotted, but in some instances these ads could look quite realistic and even include pictures and other details – often copied from a genuine seller’s ad. In order to lure a number of victims in a hurry, the scammer advertises the vehicle at a low price, often much lower than comparable vehicles. When interest is shown in the car, the scammer may often claim that they are travelling or have moved overseas and that their representative will deliver the car following receipt of payment. When payment is made, victims won’t receive the car and will not be able to contact the ‘seller’.
Scammers posing as genuine buyers can also target consumers who advertise to sell their cars on the Driveit.co.za website. The approaches used by scammers vary, but often they will contact you wanting to buy your car, but will make up stories such as needing your help to pay a third party for upfront costs like insurance. The scammer will promise you reimbursement for these costs, however once you have paid, there is no reimbursement and it is often too late to recover the money and/or contact the ‘buyer’.
Whether on the buying or selling side of a potential transaction, the scammer uses various appeals to persuade the victim to send the scammer money either by using fake online pay systems or by transferring money to the scam artist. Once the payment is made, the scammer disappears along with the victim’s money.
• Don’t be fooled! Offers which seem too good to be true, almost always aren’t true.
• Vehicles advertised at very low prices, often lower than comparable vehicles. (Eg: a vehicle is much cheaper than its market value)
• The potential ‘buyer’ is willing to purchase your car without having viewed it in person.
• A potential ‘buyer’ appears to know nothing about the vehicle you’re selling and asks no questions about it, he’s probably not interested in it. Scammers don’t want your advertised vehicle. They want your cash.
• A potential overseas ‘buyer’ is interested in purchasing your car despite it being a commonly available car in their home country. (Poor spelling, grammar and odd phrasing are often signs of an overseas scammer.)
• The seller refuses to give you a telephone number or the phone number is either faulty or diverting to voicemail.
• The other party insists on up-front or immediate payment, payment by EFT or another specific method of payment.
• Number plates are blurred out or invisible.
• During email correspondence, the ‘seller’ will pretend that they are unable to communicate via phone due to illness or being in another country.
• The seller will ask you to transfer a deposit or the full price of the vehicle before it can be viewed. Often an excuse is then made up to avoid releasing the vehicle, or requesting more money to be transferred or becoming impossible to contact.
SAFETY TIPS FOR BUYERS & SELLERS
• Ask as many questions about the advertised vehicle as possible. Request a number of photos of the vehicle from the seller, if they refuse it may be that they have stolen a photo from a genuine ad and have no others.
• Do an internet search using the exact wording in the ad—many well-known scams can be found this way.
• Get a friend to phone / contact the same person from a different e-mail address or number and check if everything still checks out. If you are still unsure, do a web search on the seller’s name address, company name etc.
• If the advertiser is using a web based e-mail account (eg. gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com) be cautious. These accounts can be created very quickly by anyone using the internet and might be an indication of a scam.
• Do not agree to offers or deals straight away: tell the person that you are not interested or that you want to get some independent advice before making a final decision.
• Insist on inspecting vehicles, such as boats, cars or trailers. (The advertised items may genuinely exist, but it might be owned by someone else.)
• Ensure that all transactions take place locally and in-person. Where possible, arrange to meet in a public place; tell others where you are going, or ask a friend, family member or co-worker to join you.
• Don’t be rushed. If someone really wants to do business with you, they will wait until you are ready to make a legitimate transaction. Furthermore, if an individual wishes to make changes to the terms of the transaction, such as where and how the payment is sent, do not let your eagerness to complete the transaction blind you to potential problems.
• Cashier’s checks are NOT the same as cash. Counterfeit checks can look very authentic. Just because the money appears to be available in your account doesn’t mean that the check has cleared and is legitimate.
• Always be wary of someone who wants to pay more than your asking price or who wants to sell you an item at an unbelievably low price. A deal that sounds too good to be true probably is.
• Be wary of wiring money to a party that you don’t know. If you wire money via Western Union or MoneyGram, it’s impossible to retrieve the money once it’s picked up at the other end. Because it can be picked up anywhere in the world, the money is virtually untraceable. These forms of funds transfer are favoured by fraudsters.
• Be wary of ‘third parties’. If a third party is actually owed any money, their client should be making the payment, not you. Never transfer money to a third party.
• Never provide your personal or banking information (e.g. credit card number) to others over the Internet.
• Don’t pay someone a holding deposit / document registration fee for an item that you have not inspected
• Never transfer money abroad or pay a large deposit and don’t hand over money until you’ve seen the vehicle and are satisfied it and the seller are genuine. To protect yourself request that an interested buyer always meets you and views the vehicle in person.
• When it comes to cars, do not hesitate to request the VIN or Registration number of a vehicle, if you feel uncomfortable with the details. This could tell you whether the vehicle s recorded as stolen or is subject to outstanding finance. (If the seller is legitimate, they should have no objection or be offended to provide this information)
WATCH OUT FOR THESE POPULAR SCAMS
Counterfeit Payment (Seller’s Beware)
Bounced check, fake money order – often combined with ‘Overpayment’ scam to compound the fraud.
Overpayment scam (Seller’s Beware)
The scammer poses as a buyer and makes you a generous offer for the car you are selling. If you accept the offer, the scammer proposes to pay with a cheque, but the cheque is for more money than the agreed sale price. The scammer will invent an excuse for the overpayment, for example to cover the additional fees, or they just pretend that it was a mistake.
The scammer will then ask you to refund the excess amount—usually through an online banking transfer. The scammer is hoping that you will do this before you, or the bank, discover that their cheque is fraudulent. (Some forgeries are surprisingly good and may even use correct bank routing numbers to convince you, and your bank, that the check may be genuine.)
If you deposit the check, the bank is required by law to make the money available to you after a certain time period. But that doesn’t mean the check is good. It may be weeks or months before the bank determines the check is a fraud. By then, the money you transferred to the scammer is long gone, and if you have already handed over the vehicle you were selling, you will probably lose it as well.
Holding deposit scams (Buyer’s Beware)
The scammer advertise a car at a very low price. When potential buyers contact them, they’ll ask you for a holding deposit or document registration fee so they can supposedly reserve the vehicle for you.
Any request to view the item will be denied by the ‘seller’ or in some instances they will even give you a false address where the items can be viewed. (The ‘seller’ will usually not be in the same town or city as you and relies on receiving your money before you realize the address is fake). Once your money is paid over to their account, they’ll stop taking your calls and stop responding to your e-mails or text messages.
Non Delivery of purchase scam (Buyer’s Beware)
The scammer poses as a seller, and place a fake advert on our website. When potential buyers try to contact them, the listed phone number invalid or diverted to voicemail. The spammers advertise their ‘vehicles’ well below market rates for comparable vehicles, causing the potential buyer to pursue the seller by using the ‘contact seller’ form to contact the seller by e-mail.
The spammer then responds with a made up story such as being ill or being in another country hence they are unable to use the phone and that they are only able to communicate via email.
The ‘seller’ then asks for a deposit or the full price to be transferred to them but after they have received the money they create an excuse as to why they cannot release the vehicle, need more money to be transferred or become impossible to contact.
If you think you’ve spotted a scam advert, attempted fraud or suspicious emails, ads, or other activity by our members, please Report it to us. If you have been a victim of fraud or illegal activity, please report it to the Police immediately.