Buying abroad

* Don't buy a 'phantom' car * The scam that haunts the internet * We help you beat the conmen...

Buying abroad

Some of the latest scams tempt buyers with cut-price cars from outside the UK. It might be a UK-specification vehicle, but the owner offers a plausible reason why theyre selling it cheaply overseas. Theyve included the shipping costs within the asking price, so its simply a case of sending the money straight to the shipping company and waiting for your bargain car to arrive.

In some instances, the car never arrives and the money goes AWOL. Despite having a genuine-looking website, the shipping company is bogus, and the seller and the car never existed. Any pictures and paperwork provided were probably copied from a genuine car for sale, and the addresses supplied by the seller were fake.

Transferring money to a UK bank account is one thing you can ask the police to investigate if things go wrong but money sent internationally is far harder to trace. UK-based criminals tend not to use accounts with mainstream banks opening an account is harder and money is easier to trace. Do an internet search to see if the sellers address is genuine, while asking the seller for a landline phone number can help flush out scammers. Vague e-mails or a shortage of personal details are both signs of a potential scam.