Police in the Western Cape are urging residents to be cautious and verify all information when it comes to purchasing a vehicle from an advertisement from social media.
Provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Andrè Traut said this warning comes after an analysis of registered crime has revealed a new trend of fraud where prospective buys of used vehicles, mostly in the cheaper price range, advertised on social media platforms are being targeted.
He said the trend has revealed that criminals advertise vehicles at “bargain prices” on various social media platforms to lure their victims.
Once a prospective buyer shows interest and makes contact with the seller, the victim is made to believe there has been huge interest in the vehicle and to secure the vehicle they need to pay a deposit in order to reserve the vehicle.
Once payment is made into a fraudulent bank account, the seller then disappears without a trace.
“Although the South African Police Service (SAPS) does not discourage the use of social media platforms to do business, we wish to warn the public to treat online advertisements with caution and to verify the legitimacy of the vehicle or goods for that matter being advertised before any funds are paid,” Traut said.
The following tips could be used to avoid falling victim to this scam: request the seller to take the advertised vehicle for a police clearance certificate before negotiating. The request for deposit or upfront payment should signal a red flag and could be a possible scam, reluctance from the seller to provide more contact information could also be seen as a red flag. Insist on seeing the vehicle personally, ensure the meeting place is safe and secure.
Police urges anyone who suspect they may be dealing with a scammer to notify their local police station and refrain from any contact with the seller/advertiser.
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