The public has been urged to be careful when buying a used car after an incident in Tallaght where a black Ford S-MAX was stolen during a burglary and later sold to an innocent member of the public.
Gardai say this current car scam has seen many innocent car buyers robbed of thousands of euros as criminals steal a car, fit it with cloned plates from a similar vehicle then sell it to an unsuspecting buyer.
In the reported local incident the scammers posed as a man named Luke and agreed to meet the buyer at the Citywest Shopping Centre.
But ‘Luke’ didn’t show up and instead an older man presenting himself as the seller’s dad turned up with the car.
It was only upon closer inspection that the buyer made the shocking discovery that the chassis (VIN) Vehicle Registration Number on the log book did not match the one on the car.
After reporting the crime to Gardai, it was discovered the car was stolen and the logbook, tax disc and NCT disc were all fake.
The buyer’s brother was suspicious of the conman and took pictures of him during the exchange which Gardai are hoping will help identify the fraudster.
They are warning punters to be careful when buying a car online and advise them to carry out their own due diligence.
A Gardai spokesperson said:
“Potential buyers should be wary of meeting sellers in public places other than at the home of the seller.
“All documents should be thoroughly checked including ensuring that the vehicle identification number (VIN; a 17 digit unique alpha numeric code) matches the original registration document.
“Other warning signs may include the seller not having two original vehicle keys or being asked to change the arranged meeting place at short notice.”
If buying a used car there are a number of things to look out for with the most important being that the car chassis (VIN) number matches records presented to the buyer.
Fake NCT certificates and motor tax discs can also be reproduced by thieves and cars advertised massively below market value should also raise red flags.
The advice would be if you meet someone to buy a used car you should meet in a public area, preferably somewhere with CCTV.
Myvehicle.ie have warned consumers that it is possible to end up with a stolen car which has been fitted with false number plates but with correct registration and VIN number.
They recommend using their pre-purchase vehicle check system to before handing over any money.