A fake car dealer has been scamming victims out of thousands of pounds by offering cars for sale at ridiculously low prices.
One victim lost £6,500 after being conned by an advert by the crooked dealer that was a copy of a genuine listing but with the price of the car cut in half.
Herefordshire Council Trading Standards has issued a warning to car buyers across the UK that Car Market (Hereford) Ltd should be avoided and is conning customers.
The bogus company has a fake director and a false address of Ross Road, Ledbury, HR8 2LP.
Investigations online reveal the company was only incorporated on May 21 this year.
By advertising on reputable online sites – including eBay, Gumtree and Motors.co.uk – the fake dealer uses a ‘virtual’ Hereford number to make it look like they are based there.
The con artists have been advertising cars at half their usual market values to trap buyers.
Trading Standards said: ‘This entices unsuspecting car buyers – who believe the seller is a genuine business due to it being a registered limited company – to contact them, keen to buy at such a low price.
‘Buyers are then encouraged to transfer the full sale price of the car to various bank accounts with the belief the car will be delivered the next day.’
This week a buyer sent £6,500 to the dealer for a car that was really worth £12,000.
Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards manager David Hough said: ‘This is an elaborate, but not uncommon scam and could net the fraudsters a fortune if not stopped.
‘Our officers are investigating the matter and working with the online platforms to take down as many of these bogus adverts as possible.
‘We would urge car buyers to be very careful how they purchase vehicles online.
‘If you are going to pay for a vehicle you do not actually have in your possession yet, then we recommend the payment must be by credit card only.
‘In addition if the car is delivered but is not as described or in the condition advertised then you can claim a refund from the credit card issuer should the trader refuse to honour your statutory rights, including the 14 day cancellation period for online sales.
‘Payment by money transfer or cheque offers no protection whatsoever, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.’
Anyone who is concerned they have been targeted by the fake dealer should contact 0808 223 1133 for more advice.