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Vehicle scams accelerating at speed. Is yours the most targeted car?

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Motorists are losing an average of £998 in vehicle scams that have accelerated sharply this year, research reveals.

The number of fake ads for used cars shot up by 74% in the first half of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022 and drivers aged between 25 and 34 (57%) are most likely to be targeted.

Over two thirds (68%) of all vehicle scams reported to Lloyds Bank used links from Facebook (including its Marketplace page) and Instagram to promote the fake car listings. Scammers used eBay to dupe customers 15% of the time.

The most common car used in the scams is the Ford Fiesta, a popular choice due to its reliability and high demand since Ford announced it’d no longer be in production.

Online marketplaces are ‘far too easy for criminals’

As reported by YourMoney.com last week, Brits have lost a total of £7.5bn to scammers in the last 12 months and Liz Ziegler, the fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, believes the sharp rise in vehicle scams on social media is ‘alarming’.

While most online marketplaces have safeguards in place to give protection to buyers and sellers, Facebook Marketplace is lagging behind its rivals and is yet to install any such tools.

Ziegler commented: “The vast majority of these scams start on Facebook, where it’s far too easy for criminals to set up fake profiles and advertise items that simply don’t exist. It’s time social media companies were held accountable for their lax approach to protecting consumers, given the vast majority of fraud starts on their platforms.

“Buying directly from approved dealers is the best way to guarantee you’re paying for a genuine vehicle, and always use your debit or credit card for maximum safety. If you do want to buy something you’ve found through social media, only transfer funds once the car is in your possession.”

Following the worrying increase in scams, Lloyds has issued five tips to avoid being a victim of the car cons.

Top tips to stay safe from vehicle scams:

  1. Fraudsters use social media to advertise vehicles that don’t exist. Always do your own research and do not part with any money until you have viewed, and tested, the vehicle in person
  2. Check documents: Always ask to see the seller’s V5C logbook, so you can verify that the seller is the legitimate owner. The DVLA advises that a vehicle without a V5C should not be purchased
  3. The safest way to buy a new or used car is from well-known, approved dealers. Organisations like the AA offer specific guidance for buying cars unseen
  4. Low prices and pressure selling tactics are often used to target victims. Question if a deal looks ‘too good to be true’ and compare prices from trusted sources
  5. Always use your debit or credit card when you shop online. This helps to protect your money should something go wrong

The most reported makes and models to look out for when buying used cars:

Make Model
Ford Fiesta
BMW 1 Series
Volkswagen Transporter (van)
Mercedes Sprinter (van)
Audi A3