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Highland Life / News / Highland Council News / Beware of online classified adverts scam! - Highland Trading Standards warns consumers.

Beware of online classified adverts scam! - Highland Trading Standards warns consumers.

Issued: 29 Sep 2010

Trading Standards officers of The Highland Council are warning consumers to be wary of buying goods from online classified advertisements.

Online classified advertisements do offer an easy and sometimes free means of advertising goods for consumers. However, they can also be a means for traders to disguise themselves as 'private sellers' and for bogus sellers to operate scams.

One such scam came to the attention of Highland Council Trading Standards by Highland resident Mrs Shahna Dovey and her daughter, Connie Matheson, both of Invergordon.

Mrs Dovey spotted a second hand car to buy online for her and her daughter, Connie, to share. The 5 door Audi Hatchback was advertised for £2,500 and both Mrs Dovey and her daughter thought this would be an ideal car for their needs. When they contacted the seller by email, he explained that he was selling his car as he no longer needed a 'right-hand drive' vehicle. Apparently he had recently divorced and he was returning to Spain to live with his parents.

The seller assured Mrs Dovey that she would have 5 days to check over the vehicle before any payment was passed over and that he knew of a delivery company who could ship the vehicle directly to them. He stated that he would pay all the costs involved.

Mrs Dovey and her daughter decided to go ahead with the deal and continued to receive emails from the seller arrangements and the shipping company concerning the purchase and delivery of the vehicle to their home. They soon realised, however, that the arrangements made for delivery of the vehicle were bogus and unfortunately the vehicle never arrived.

Mrs Dovey contacted her bank in order to try and stop any payment going ahead but was informed that the £2,500 had been transferred from her bank account to a bank in Spain. When she contacted the bank in Spain, they advised her to report the matter to her local police as a matter of fraud. Connie and her mum are disappointed at the whole affair but wanted to warn other consumers to be wary of buying goods online from private sellers and not be caught out online.

David MacKenzie, from Highland Council Trading Standards said: "We are very grateful to both Mrs Dovey and her daughter, Connie, for coming forward with their story. It gives us the opportunity to highlight to consumers to be very careful when responding to online advertisements, especially those purporting to be from private individuals and to think carefully before giving out personal details either online or over the phone when buying goods from people they do not know."

Highland Council Trading Standards want to warn consumers that this type of scam can quickly resurface under another guise or the seller can change their email or contact details.

Buyers and sellers of vehicles can further protect themselves from fraud by contacting the 'Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group" (or VSTAG) online. The VSTAG is an industry forum created to combat vehicle related fraud. Consumers can access this information by going online at: www.vstag.co.uk

Concerned consumers can also contact Consumer Direct Scotland for advice on 08454 04 05 06 who will pass on details to Highland Council Trading Standards or they can visit or write to The Highland Council Trading Standards, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF

For further Highland Trading Standards news please go to: www.highland.gov.uk/tradingstandardsnews

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme