Top ten car scams

The world can be a dishonest place, especially when it comes to buying a car – but luckily Perrys Motors can help you avoid being the victim of a new or used car con.

There are numerous amounts of covert methods that con men can use to cheat you out of your money or a legitimate car, but knowing the tell tale signs of a con, is half the battle.

Here is a guide to ten of the most popular car cons out there on the road and how to avoid them.

Of course, the main piece of advice would always be to buy from trusted dealerships, such as Perrys dealerships. But if you do not do this, below is some advice.

Insurance write-off

An Insurance write-off can come with many different nametags, including CAT C, Category C or uneconomical repair major. But in most cases CAT C is used.

CAT C is the name given to a car that has been heavily damaged in a collision and subsequently deemed too wrecked to be salvageable by an insurance company. Someone selling a CAT C car has restored the destroyed vehicle so that it is driveable again.

Although this is not illegal, buying a CAT C car can be risky as it can have faults and can be hard to re-sell.

As dealers do not deem CAT C cars as ‘valuable commodities’, they are always keen to get rid of them so look out for tell tale signs, like a surprisingly low price and subtle mentions of the CAT C name tag in production descriptions. Dealers are not obliged to tell you a car is CAT C unless you ask.

‘Escrow con’

The escrow con is a way of a private seller stealing your money as they sell you a car that does not exist.

A private seller will advertise a car that is usually very cheap (too good to be true cheap) and tell you that you can buy the car but it is currently in a different country. This seller will ensure you that it exists as they say a trustworthy third party will hold the money until you receive the car.

When you send the money to the third party you will be told that your car is on its way.

You will never receive the car, because it doesn’t exist, and you won’t get your money back because the third party does not exist.

The Spot Delivery Scam

When purchasing a car you may be told that it is zero per cent Annual Percentage Rate (APR), but then you find out that it may be around 10 per cent APR, even though you purchased the car a week or two ago.

The dealer will argue that you have a low credit rating; however they couldn’t possibly know this as they cannot access your credit rating.

Some dealers take advantage of this method as very few people actually know their credit rating. Always make sure you are up-to-date on yours.


A clocked car has had its milometer rolled back, so that an old car with high mileage can be made to look like it has low mileage. This ultimately makes the car more attractive to buyers, as the shorter a car has travelled; the more reliable you can usually expect it to be.

As with most other cons, a cars logbook can come to the rescue. You can check the cars MOT certificates in its logbook to see if it corresponds with the cars milometer. You can also contact previous owners to further check the mileage.

Small things like checking the condition of the cars upholstery and paint job to see if it matches its age can also be useful.

Cut n shut

Essentially, a cut n shut car is a car that has been put together from parts of other models to make a new one. This is illegal.

This can range from anything to new doors to entirely new chassis’s and because this is the case they can be very tricky to spot.

To ensure you do not get caught out when buying a cut n shut car, make sure that you view it in good light, check for mismatched panels, check the MOT and service history and you can even check examine the upholstery.

One of the surest ways of avoiding a cut n shut model is too check its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which should correspond with numbers on the car’s engine and paperwork.

Stolen Car

Stolen cars are exactly what they say they are, and are possibly one of the most common cons on the road as many car buyers fail to see the importance of owning a cars logbook.

One of the key risks of owning a stolen car is simple; if the police see you driving it then you may be accused of theft.

When buying a car, make sure you check it has a logbook as this can tell you the cars ownership history. Also make sure this logbook carries a genuine DVLA watermark as logbooks can be faked. This logbook can also help you identify if the cars VIN numbers match its history.

Dealerships pose as private dealer

As there is certain legislation that says a franchised dealership must tick certain boxes when selling a car, some dealers may pose as private sellers to get around some of these rules.

For example, a franchised dealer must tell you if a car is faulty, however if they pose as a private seller they are not obliged to tell you, or give you the three month warranty you are entitled to by law.

One of the obvious but effective ways of checking the legitimacy of a car is to simply test drive it on a range of different driving surfaces.

This way you will be able to tell if there are any faults. You can also check the cars logbook for MOT history, but the problem with this is that a fault may have happened after its last MOT.

Meet me with your money

Although it may seem a little basic, and possibly unbelievable, some private sellers may ask you to bring money to a meeting place and then rob you and steal your money.

This is very common as there is no way of linking a private seller with the robbery as they can arrange for someone else to ambush you, making them look oblivious to the situation.

If you plan to meet with a private seller, then you should take some precautions. Try and meet them at their house or take somebody with you for security.

Sold as seen

“You bought it as you saw it,” may be one of the common jingles of private sellers as you return a car with a fault.

This con is essentially just based on a lie. You are told a car is in 100 per cent working condition by a private seller and when you get it on the road, it breaks down. If you return and ask for your money back then they won’t return it because it was ‘Sold as seen’ and this is not illegal.

If you do not ask if a car is faulty, then a private seller does not have to tell you and may imply that the car is the best thing since sliced bread. Private sellers are also not obliged to give you any warranty, unlike dealers.

Cloned vehicles

A cloned vehicle is a stolen car, although not always, that has been given false number plates and identify papers, of which are already linked to another vehicle on the road.

This can be done for many reasons. If a car is stolen then cloning can give a car a new identity and hide its past.

But a car doesn’t have to be stolen to be cloned. If a driver has unpaid parking tickets or has been caught speeding, cloning shuns the responsibility of fines to the innocent driver who owns the original car.

Spotting a cloned car can be tough, but you should always carefully check a cars VIN number and logbook. You can also check for any signs of tampering on the cars registration plate or VIN labels.

Many of these cons can be avoided with the use of a HPI check.