Three identical reports from the Canadian Recreation Vehicle industry, each concerning identical text e-mails, have prompted a warning about predators attempting to swindle private individuals who advertise vehicles for sale. This latest incident is a variation upon a scam that prompted a warning from the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. during 2008.
The recent occurrence involves sellers who receive an e-mail from an individual – most likely an alias – using a public domain address such as Yahoo or Google. He presents himself as an agent for a buyer who makes a flat cash offer for a vehicle (in one situation, $71,000 for a RV), a sum significantly higher than the advertised sales price, “to cover shipping and handling.” The agent states that a “cashier’s check” for that amount will be express mailed, to be followed by the arrival of the buyer’s shipper who will inspect the vehicle and finalize the sale. The seller is instructed to send the shipper the difference between the advertised sales price and the cashier’s cheque to cover the transport, taxes and ownership transfer.
“What the seller will discover is that the cashier’s cheque is counterfeit, but days could pass before bank clearing houses detect the problem,” said VSA Deputy Registrar Ian Christman. “The scam depends upon the seller’s payment for shipping and handling being received before the fraud becomes known. A simple way to protect oneself and expose the scam would be to advise the buyer that you would be pleased to have the cheque certified, following which payment to the shipper would be made.”
Vehicle sellers should be aware that they will be held fully responsible by their bank for any counterfeit or NSF cheques, including fees, interest and repayment of the full amount deposited. If they receive one of these solicitations they should report it to the police, their bank or appropriate consumer agencies.