August 17, 2018

Classic enthusiasts warned of rise in online scams

Classic car collectors are urged to be extra vigilant when buying online due to a rising number of used car scams.

In recent months, the number of reported scams has shot up, with increased sophistication meaning the potential to be caught out is greater than ever.

Criminal gangs are creating more fraudulent online ads than ever before, with some even setting up fake dealer websites to trap unsuspecting motorists.

Now experts at are warning classic car fans of the increased risk, as scammers extend their networks to more niche car markets.


Mark Bailey, head of parent company CDL Vehicle Information Systems, warns that the number of online car scams has rocketed this summer.

Of the ads, he said: “At first glance, they look realistic; they cut and paste wording from genuine adverts and add features like make and model searches to appear more convincing.”

A common scam sees an advert for a so-called “virtual vehicle” cloned from a legitimate source, priced slightly below market value to attract buyers.

Buyers are then encouraged to transfer large deposits to hold the vehicle through fear of losing it to other interested parties, which the seller then pockets before disappearing without a trace.

Strange payment requests

To avoid such cons, Mr Bailey advises buyers to research the market price for models they’re looking for and to be aware that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

“The common denominator amongst all these scams is that fraudsters want your money so think hard before you send any – even the smallest amounts,” he adds.

Buyers should be wary of any strange payment requests, including overseas bank transfers and Western Union transfer.

They should also be cautious of any spam-style email addresses, and always make sure they see the car in person before buying.

While classic car buying remains a great pursuit, it’s more important than ever that buyers are extra vigilant when it comes to recognising scams.

For ultimate peace of mind, choose a classic specialist site, like our partners The Market or Historics at Brooklands, when purchasing a classic vehicle online.