One-in-10 British drivers (10%) have been a victim of fraud when buying a car, research by Close Brothers Motor Finance has shown.

Its Road Ahead research suggested that younger adults are more at risk of falling victim, accounting for the majority of the 10% of respondents who claimed they had experienced fraud.

Just under a quarter (24%) of those 24 or under have been scammed, as have 15% of 25 to 34s. In contrast, just 8% of people aged between 45 and 54, and only 3% of over 55s, have fallen victim to scams.

The company said changes to the car buying experience over time has presented scammers with more opportunities to deceive buyers.

Lisa Watson, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “Though the internet has become an increasingly popular and convenient way to buy and sell a vehicle, with platforms such as Facebook Marketplace offering an easy solution, it has in turn become a popular operating environment for criminals.

“Consumers and their spending habits are easily influenced by what they have seen online. Coupled with the current economic crisis, it would seem enticing offers advertised through online channels by scammers are catching the eyes of consumers, specifically younger drivers.”

Online fraudsters used headshots of a Hollywood actor and a Financial Times reporter to build a car retail website to scam car buyers out of thousands of pounds.

The internet is where most people are concerned that fraudulent activity is most likely to occur, according to the research.

When asked where people are most likely to become a victim of fraud when purchasing a car, 28% said social media, followed by private sales (18%). Only 8% believe people are most likely to fall victim when purchasing a car at a car dealership.

Watson added: “More awareness is needed, now more than ever, as financial hardship will only make consumers more susceptible to falling victim to online scams as they search for second-hand cars.

“Trustworthy and legitimate car dealers are in an excellent position to help educate, support, and protect consumers in their car buying journeys, as they have a regulatory responsibility to treat customers fairly.”

AM reported last June on that car buyers were being have been warned to be on their guard after Trading Standards tracked a bogus online retailer demanding full payment to secure next day delivery of vehicles which never arrived.

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