Selling your vehicle? Watch out for this scam growing in popularity

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Net Patrol International Inc.  Data Investigation and Forensic Services
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Trustees

An Ottawa woman is warning people selling their vehicle to be wary of scammers who try to lure sellers into purchasing vehicle history reports through fraudulent websites to obtain their credit card information.

Ellen Thompson says she was encouraged by the large number of responses to an ad she posted on AutoTrader to sell her son’s 2011 Honda CR-Z. 

The first day I was inundated with interested people and I thought ‘Oh, this is crazy,’ says Thompson. I couldn’t even keep up to the interest.

Thompson had already paid for a vehicle history report for the pending sale, but she estimates nine out of every 10 text messages she received from potential buyers led to the same request for a vehicle history report from a different company.

She said the potential buyers try to establish a relationship through text messages and appear eager to buy the car, eventually asking her to provide the car’s vehicle history report.

Asking for a vehicle history report is a common request as it contains information about ownership, collision history and major repairs. In Canada, U.S-based company Carfax is often cited as the most common provider of such reports. 

In Thompson’s case, however, those seemingly kind and excited buyers suddenly changed their tone when it came to asking for a vehicle history report.

They would say, ‘That’s not detailed enough. Carfax isn’t the one I depend on, can you please go to this website and purchase the one that I trust?’ said Thompson.

The message would include links to websites offering vehicle history reports for less than what Carfax charges, and each one immediately sought credit card information.

That’s when I realized this has got to be a scam, she said.

Risk of identity fraud

Thompson warns that the potential buyers became very pushy in trying to convince her to order the reports from the sites they provided, essentially asking her why she would risk putting a stop to a quick sale for her asking price.

The websites may appear slick and promise a good deal for a vehicle history report but they were very likely fraudulent, according to Jeff Horncastle, the acting client and communications officer for the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

These websites are very convincing so it’s important to do your research, said Horncastle.

If you’re providing your credit card information and some personal information, this puts you at risk for identity fraud.

A quick search of a company on Google may not suffice, he cautions, since fraudsters often use the tactic of search engine optimization to ensure their sites flood the list of results yielded by a search engine.

This could mislead people seeking to verify the authenticity of a site, said Horncastle.

He said, while not new, the vehicle history report scam has been growing as part of a wider increase in the number of reported vendor fraud schemes in Canada.

This article was originally sourced from