TIM DREW: Beware the dangers of online vehicle fraud

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INTERNET trading is providing plenty of opportunities for vehicle fraud, and is costing the nation £17.8million each year, according to new figures released by Get Safe Online and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

In 2013, more than 6,600 UK residents reported online vehicle fraud to the police, with an average loss of £4,078 per victim.

The losses ranged from small ones of less than £50, which mainly related to holding deposits, to the £300,000 sustained by one victim, when a number of vehicles were involved.

Part or full payment for the vehicles and then loss of contact with the ‘seller’ accounted for nearly half (49 per cent) of frauds, and more than a third (37 per cent) of cases involved the payment of a deposit.

Bank transfers (58 per cent), fake eBay invoices (14 per cent) and fake Google payment systems invoices (12 per cent) offering non-existent ‘buyer protection’ for the transaction were the most commonly cited payment methods, with some prospective buyers making payment to Google Wallet or other online systems under the mistaken impression that the funds would be held until they had received the goods and were satisfied with them.

Other victims received texts from well-known websites requesting refundable fees for car inspections.

Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of victims were men, and people in their 40 reported a quarter of all online vehicle fraud.

• The Tarring Community Forum will meet at West Worthing Baptist Church, in South Street, Tarring, on Tuesday, April 8, between 7pm and 8pm.

PCSO Yvonne Mortlock will host one surgery that day, at St Michael’s Church hall, in Hayling Rise, between 10.30am and 11.30am, and another the next day, at Durrington Library, in Salvington Road, also between 10.30am and 11.30am.

PCSO Catherine Dines will hold her surgery on Thursday, April 10, at Buddys Café, at 121 South Farm Road, between mid-day and 1pm. PCSO Ros Tite’s surgery will take place at the Maybridge Keystone Centre, in Raleigh Way, between 11am and mid-day on Friday, April 11.