Drivers could lose up to £2,000 when selling their car in a common car scam – ‘risky’

Crash for cash scam explained by Insurance Fraud Bureau

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Motorists have been warned buyers may attempt to “distract the seller” while tampering with the car to damage it. Fraudsters will add engine oil to the water reservoir to make sure the car “breaks down” when it is driven.

The scammer will use this to demand a lower price for the model as the car was not in the advertised condition.

Experts at Select Car Leasing said this is usually undertaken by an accomplice once the seller’s attention is diverted.

They said: “Not only can buying a car be risky, so can selling it online.

“Some scammers will turn up for an in-person inspection of the vehicle being sold and distract the seller while an accomplice adds engine oil to the water reservoir.

“The car will of course break down if driven, with the criminals claiming the seller has tried to sell them a faulty car – they’ll use this as leverage for a significantly lower asking price.

“The scammers will then empty the engine oil out of the reservoir and sell the car on to another completely unknowing buyer.

“The Derbyshire Times found that in some reports victims of the scam were £2,000 worse off.”

Earlier this year, a 34-year-old car dealer was hit with the scam after a gang poured oil into his Aud8 A5 from a Fruit Shoot bottle.

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The other customers distracted the seller by claiming there was an issue with the spare wheel inside the boot.

The dad was alerted to the issue by his wife who had been watching CCTV footage of the incident.

He said: “One of them was faffing around with the spare wheel and he said to me ‘this is broke, this is broke’.

There was nothing wrong with it, so I walked over to show him that everything was working alright.

“Then the other two at the front of the car – one poured oil into the coolant tank using a Fruit Shoot bottle.

“And the other one put oil into the air intake. Luckily my missus was watching out of the window.”

Michael Browne, a motorist from Whitstable in Kent has also fallen foul of the scam.

An interested buyer contacted him to offer £300 lower than the car’s asking price.

However, during the test drive smoke started billowing out of the car with the prospective buyers demanding a reduction in cost.

They were offering to pay just £1.10 for a car which had been valued by the seller at £3,600.

It was only after he spotted oil on the driveway that he started to become suspicious this could be a scam.

Mr Browne said: “While one was looking at the engine, the other one wanted to look at the spare tyre so they got me around to the boot.

“That must have been when the young lad who was around the front put dirty oil in the coolant. I think they used a squeezy bottle.

“While I was looking at the engine, he must have put some in the exhaust pipe.”

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