Fraudsters have been advertising vehicles and machinery for sale on various online selling platforms. This includes vehicles and machinery used by the agricultural industry. The victims, after communicating via email with the fraudster, will receive a bogus email which appears to be sent by a trustworthy third party, often PayPal or Escrow. The emails are designed to persuade victims to pay upfront via bank transfer rather than through a protected payment method via the website. The victim pays the deposit before visiting the seller to collect the goods, believing there is a ‘cooling off’ period to reclaim the payment if they change their mind. This gives victims the false sense of security that their money is being looked after by this trustworthy third party, when in fact, it is not and the money has gone straight to the fraudster. It is vital that the public exercise caution when receiving emails or messages of this nature.
What you need to do:
- Never transfer money for a vehicle you haven’t seen in person.
- Avoid paying for the vehicle by bank transfer as it offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
- If you’re purchasing from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, or ask friends and family for advice before completing a purchase.
If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it at actionfraud.police.uk, or by calling 0300 123 2040.