A Which? member came to us for advice after a scammer convinced him to pay £2,600 up-front for a caravan that never materialised…
Which? member Jim Morris told us: ‘While searching online for a second-hand caravan, I found one advertised for £2,600 on caravansforsale.co.uk.
‘The seller was based in The Netherlands, but would travel with it to my home. He told me about an ‘eBay Protection Program’ and sent a link to a legitimate-looking eBay page with instructions on how to transfer the money. I then authorised a bank transfer for £2,600 into what I thought was an escrow account.
‘On the agreed delivery day, he told me his car had broken down. He sent photos of the underside of the car and organised a new delivery date for after it had been repaired. I heard nothing from him after that, despite repeated attempts to contact him.
‘eBay confirmed that the link sent to me was not an official one. My bank said it was too late to recover the money. I’ve reported the incident to the police and Action Fraud.’
Our advice on dodgy online dealers
If a seller tries to get you to complete a bank transfer or an offline payment, it’s often a scam.
In this case the transaction was via a direct bank transfer, which makes it difficult to recover the transferred funds. An escrow account can be used to securely transfer funds in situations like these, but you should set it up yourself to ensure it’s legitimate.
eBay does have a Vehicle Protection Program in place, but this is only for transactions completed on its website. We’d never recommend paying for a vehicle without first checking it for defects in person.
This member correctly alerted all of the necessary authorities to this dodgy dealer.
Keeping yourself safe from online scammers isn’t easy, and that’s why our scams campaign is calling for the Government and businesses to do more to protect us from scams.
Have you come across any dodgy online sellers? Let us know what happened and what you did about it.