Car sale scam warning to Lichfield and Burntwood residents

Police are warning Lichfield and Burntwood residents to be on their guard against a scam which could cost them thousands.

People who legitimately advertise vehicles or other goods on the internet, in magazines or local newspapers are being targeted in the fraud across the country.

The buyer, who doesn’t physically meet the seller, sends a cheque for the vehicle which is significantly higher than the asking price. They instruct the seller to keep “a little extra” for themselves and forward the rest of the additional money to a shipping agent via Western Union credit transfer.

The seller banks the cheque, which appears to have cleared, and sends on the additional money only to find shortly afterwards that the cheque was phony and they’ve lost the money they sent via Western Union.

Several Staffordshire residents have been targeted, including a Cannock man who sold his car online for £2,000 only to be asked to forward £3,500 in additional money.  Fortunately, he grew suspicious and did not forward the additional cash, reporting the matter to police.

Staffordshire Police fraud investigator DC Neil Powell, from Chase division, said:

“These fraudsters, who are usually from foreign countries, have no intention of buying the vehicles and are only interested in conning people out of large amounts of money. A tell-tale sign is that their emails often include poor English or bad grammar.

“If anyone receives a cheque which is higher than the asking price, they should check its legitimacy with their bank and always be cautious. You have to ask yourself, ‘Why would someone I don’t know trust me with thousands of pounds of their own money?’. If something seems to good to be true, it usually is.”

Victims of the scam should report their crime to Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455.

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