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An image of Bill the Kookaburra, in a gum tree with a speech bubble. In the speech bubble is the word "SCAM" and an alert symbol.

Scam Alert

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have reported an increase in vehicle scams. In 2020 $1 million of vehicle scams In the first quarter of 2021, losses are stated to be at $288 000. We explain what a vehicle scam is, and some tips on what to look for.

What is a vehicle scam?

Vehicle scams are common on sites like the Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, Autotrader, Car Sales, and Cars Guide.

Targeting Buyers

To target buyers a scammer will post fake online listings, to sell in-demand cars below the market value.  Often with a sense of urgency, such as moving before a defence deployment. This lures potential buyers. Scammers will then ask for payment to “secure” the car for the buyer without an inspection, and the vehicle is never delivered. 

According to Scamwatch, examples of the fake Department of Defence emails used in recent vehicle scams include:


Targeting Sellers

In another common scam, they target sellers. The scammers say they "work on the North West Shelf" (which is in the Rowley Sub-basin in Perth) or another remote region. In this scam, it is about the payment types and transfers, and they ask you to make a payment on their behalf, which they will add to their paypal transfer to you.

"The main issue is they only accept moneygram money transfer which must be made to their Head Office in Philippines, according to them, only their international HQ (Philippines) receives payment for pick up and delivery anywhere in the world, I am sure this is just a way of cutting tax and so on, unfortunately, because I am still offshore, I do not have access to moneygram money transfer, I can help you look up a 7-11 store around you? you can make the MoneyGram transfer from there."

"Can you help me make the moneygram transfer to the carriers? I could have easily done this myself online, but my card expired in December and I haven't been home to apply for another one, the freighters charged $1,650aud which I will add to the paypal transfer I will make, after you have received the PayPal payment.”

For more information on this scam visit WA Scamnet

Warning Signs

  • The phone number does not follow the Australian format.
    • overseas numbers will have a different prefix, not the Australian +61 
  • An unusually low price,
  • The seller is unavailable to meet the buyer or allowing them to pick up the new car.
  • Payment is via a third party website, eBay, direct bank transfer or international money transfers.
  • They ask you to make a payment to a third party and they will reimburse you.

Tips for sellers

  • The phone number does not follow the Australian format
    • overseas numbers will have a different prefix, not the Australian +61
  • Never pay money via wire transfer to help a customer access the goods or services you are selling;
  • Be cautious when dealing with customers only via email or who claim to be overseas, remote or interstate – independently verify who you are dealing with before sending any money or goods. If doubtful, then do not proceed with the sale;
  • Be wary when normal banking processes are not available; and
    • when accepting payment, check with the bank or PayPal to make sure it is legitimate before proceeding with the sale.

At the same time, scammers have asked for personal information, such as copies of drivers licences.

To protect your identity, never provide your personal details to someone you have only met online.

If you have been victim to a scam, contact immediately:

  • Your bank
  • The platform that the scam occurred on

For More information on scams visit the Scamwatch website. The site includes help for how to make a report and where to get help.

If you have experienced a loss online and believe the perpetrator is in Australia, you can also report the scam to ReportCyber. ReportCyber triages reports and allocates them to the relevant law enforcement authorities for further action.

IDCARE is Australia & New Zealand's national identity and cyber support service. IDCARE is a free service that will work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and provide support. You can contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160 or visit