The ACCC has sounded the alarm for a worrying new scam that is tricking Australians out of a huge amount of cash this year.
A new scam is ripping off Aussies by more than a million dollars a year.
Online scam car listings have already cost shoppers more about $300,000 through the first three months of this year.
This is more than the entire losses reported to Scamwatch in 2019.
Scammers are posting dodgy ads on sites such as Carsales, Cars Guide, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
And in a worrying new trend these scammers have started to impersonate defence personnel to draw in potential buyers.
The ACCC says that of the cases reported this year 97 per cent claimed to be in the navy, army or air force and have said they wanted to sell their vehicle quickly before deployment.
Advice form the ACCC is to make sure anyone claiming to be a defence personnel has the email format @defence.gov.au, but even this doesn’t guarantee it to be real as scammers can mimic email addresses.
Delia Rickard, the deputy chair of the ACCC, believes that these scammers are trying to take advantage of the booming demand for second hand cars.
Prices of certain second hand cars have skyrocketed in the past 12 months as the supply of new cars have tightened due to COVID-19 induced production restrictions.
Toyota’s LandCruiser is in run-out mode ahead of a new model expected to arrive late this year. Dealers have been inundated with requests to buy limited stock, which is driving up the price of near new examples sold by private sellers.
New versions of the Suzuki Jimny four-wheel drive have waitlists extending many months, building a huge demand for used versions.
The ACCC said that the sellers often appear motivated to sell quickly and claim to be moving or travelling to avoid meeting potential buyers before payment.
Anyone who claims to be unavailable and insists on payments before meeting the buyer should be treated as suspicious.
“Always try to inspect the vehicle before purchase and avoid unusual payment methods. If you have any doubts, do not go ahead with the deal,” says Rickard.
“A price that is too good to be true should be a warning sign for potential buyers. If a classified ad offers a vehicle at a very low price, the ad might not be legitimate.”