Scams prey upon private vehicle sellers

    SURREY, BC, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - Three identical reports from the Canadian
Recreation Vehicle industry, each concerning identical text e-mails, have
prompted a warning about predators attempting to swindle private individuals
who advertise vehicles for sale.
    This latest incident is a variation upon a scam that prompted a warning
from the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. during 2008.
    The recent occurrence involves sellers who receive an e-mail from an
individual - most likely an alias - using a public domain address such as
Yahoo or Google. He presents himself as an agent for a buyer who makes a flat
cash offer for a vehicle (in one situation, $71,000 for a RV), a sum
significantly higher than the advertised sales price, "to cover shipping and
handling." The agent states that a "cashier's check" for that amount will be
express mailed, to be followed by the arrival of the buyer's shipper who will
inspect the vehicle and finalize the sale. The seller is instructed to send
the shipper the difference between the advertised sales price and the
cashier's cheque to cover the transport, taxes and ownership transfer.
    "What the seller will discover is that the cashier's cheque is
counterfeit, but days could pass before bank clearing houses detect the
problem," said VSA Deputy Registrar Ian Christman. "The scam depends upon the
seller's payment for shipping and handling being received before the fraud
becomes known. A simple way to protect oneself and expose the scam would be to
advise the buyer that you would be pleased to have the cheque certified,
following which payment to the shipper would be made."
    Vehicle sellers should be aware that they will be held fully responsible
by their bank for any counterfeit or NSF cheques, including fees, interest and
repayment of the full amount deposited. If they receive one of these
solicitations they should report it to the police, their bank or appropriate
consumer agencies.
    Last year, the VSA warned the B.C. public and the industry about an
Internet shopper from Ghana who professes an interest in buying a specific
vehicle and having it shipped to the African country. The proposal is to buy a
car with a credit card, but require in advance a credit card number from the
seller to cover transport charges. The scam is that credit card payments from
the buyer are on stolen cards, the bad news arriving much too late from the
credit card exchange, while the shipping fee, paid by the victimized Internet
vendor, has long since disappeared.

For further information:

For further information: Judy McRae, Manager, Corporate Services and
Communications, Phone: (604) 293-3521;

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