Scam car dealer SR Vans has demonstrated a new way that online con artists are convincing consumers to part with thousands of pounds.
The dealership, purporting to be located in Stockton-upon-Tees, doesn’t have a website like the other fakes Car Dealer has reported on before. Instead, it was using online profiles on eBay, Gumtree and Google to dupe buyers.
SR Vans was using bots to post daily positive reviews about its dealership and had managed to successfully remove genuine reviews stating that the business was a scam.
Car Dealer spoke to Google who investigated the business and removed their business profile from their platform.
It said that ‘the business profile in question was found to violate our policies and our team has taken action to remove it from Maps’.
While the operation of the business is different to the usual scams, the drastically low prices are very similar trap for car buyers.
Buyer Vincent Jones alerted Car Dealer to the scam dealer after he paid a £1,200 deposit for a Nissan Note that never arrived. He said he didn’t mind paying the large deposit because he knew he wanted the car, which was advertised at £2,600.
One of the most convincing parts of the scam was a profile for the business SRVans Limited, registered with Companies House and in June 2023, for the same address given by the business.
However, the location doesn’t really exist and desperate customers have been travelling to the address to find their cars aren’t there.
Dale Rennison, director of performance car dealership Renline Motors – which is located on the opposite side of Portrack Grange Road to where the SR Vans claim to be based – says people have come into his showroom looking for them.
He told Car Dealer: ‘Yes, I can confirm that it’s a scam. I’ve had a few people actually turn up to my showroom asking where SR Vans is located but there is no company in the area with that name.
‘Hopefully something can be done about them soon.’
Those who looked the business up on Google Maps would have found images of the inside and outside of a dealership, but when looking on Streetview it doesn’t exist.
Jones also told Car Dealer about the reviews he had written which were subsequently deleted or responded to by SR Vans claiming they were fake.
eBay Motors Group acted quickly to remove the listings from their platforms but the scam car dealer quickly managed to relist them.
Phill Jones, chief operating officer at eBay Motors Group commented: ‘eBay Motors Group can confirm SR Vans and all its listings have been removed from all our platforms with immediate effect.
‘We are constantly working to protect users from bad actors on our sites. We have recently introduced a new third party identity verification programme, Veriff, as part of our dealer onboarding process.
‘The utilisation of the programme’s biometric authentication will help further strengthen our security, adding to our stringent checks to help prevent bad actors coming onto our platforms. The system went live earlier this month, after the SR Vans listings appeared.
‘We would like to take this opportunity to assure our dealer partners and their customers that we take these matters very seriously. The trust and security of our platforms are of the utmost importance and we will continue to constantly invest in systems to safeguard our platforms.’