I need to have a bit of a rant today, so fix yourselves a coffee and make sure you’re sitting comfortably.
I have only just recently discovered the dishonesty and the reality of what appears to be a world-wide plague of car-selling scams. And I have to say, after reading people’s feedback on various forums (in France, the UK and the US), and taking a look for myself on some of the sites where sellers can place a free ad, my faith in human-kind has taken a blow. It makes me realise that there are crooks and thieves, not just on the local street corner, but everywhere.
As a parent, I brought my children up to be honest . . . and because they are honest, they assume that everyone else is. Now, I realise that I should have taught them to be more wary. Let me explain . . .
Eldest son, who (I mentioned in April) only recently landed his first real job, had been talking about buying himself a second-hand car. He lives quite a distance from us so he had been checking out professional sellers and also looking in the free ads on the internet. Yesterday he texted to say he had contacted a lady about a VW Golf for only 2000 euros and, later that same day, he transferred the email and photos she had sent.
I was expecting to see photos of a clapped out 20-year-old car for that price, so I hadn’t even read the first line of the email, and already I was getting a waft of something fishy . . . a 2007 Golf 2.0 tdi dg sport with 74000km on the clock, in immaculate condition . . . for only 2000 euros . . . ??????????
I carried on reading to discover the life-story of the lady . . . just married, has left the country on her honeymoon and needs to sell the car because they won’t be coming back (that’s one hell of a honeymoon). Car is in storage somewhere in France and, strangely enough, she left keys, ALL papers, including a pre-signed sales contract (so in fact, she knew when she left that it was for an eternal honeymoon?). And it gets better . . . the person in charge of storage is ALSO a professional transporter, and the lady had the forethought to pay him in advance so that the car can be delivered to anywhere in the country FREE OF CHARGE. All the potential buyer need do, is say where he wants the vehicule delivered to, and be there with 2000 euros CASH.
. . .
Needless to say, I phoned my eldest son immediately and said “it’s a scam”. Then I went on google to prove it. In only 5 minutes, I had read dozens of accounts from other people who had answered similar adverts. Sometimes the seller is away on honeymoon, sometimes it’s the husband who suddenly has a posting abroad because of his really high-powered job . . . sometimes it’s because the spouse has tragically passed away, or her 20-year-old son is in a coma . . . the lack of credibility of these people is amazing !
Reading on, to see what the outcome was for those who dared to continue after the first contact, the scenario was invariably the same. . . the delivery date is set . . . the future buyer then gets a phone call from the transporter, who is on his way, saying that he was mugged only the night before, doesn’t want to have to transport any cash on him, so can the buyer go to the PO and send money by Western Union. And of course, if the buyer hasn’t been alerted by any of this and goes ahead with payment, he then finds himself short of 2000 euros (or however much was asked) and the transporter never shows up. Meanwhile, there’s some one rubbing his hands with glee when the money arrives in his account (always overseas) and there’s one more pigeon born, who has no chance of taking any legal action or ever seeing his money again.
Anyway . . . my son is now one day older and a whole lot wiser. Luckily for him, he thought to talk to his old folk BEFORE he went any further . . . and he now knows that if something looks too good to be true, alarm bells should start ringing inside his head.