We first came across this in January when we were approached by a car dealer in Australia who had been directed to a website purporting to be 1st Move International's car shipping site.
Car Shipping Scam: The hook
Fraudsters had copied aspects of our site and were advising potential victims that they would buy their vehicle and ship it via their approved shippers, pointing the victim to this so called shipping site which they had published themselves.
Once the seller had been 'hooked' the fraudster then sends a cheque to the seller for the cost of the vehicle and, very kindly, includes in this payment the costs for shipping the vehicle overseas.
Car Shipping Scam: The Con.
Say the car is being sold for £ 4000.00 and the shipping costs are £1000.00, you, the seller, get a nice little cheque for £ 5000.00 which you duly bank. The bank may even advise you that the funds are in your account, cleared and safe.
Car Shipping Scam: The Sting.
Within a few days you will be asked to send a slice of this money to the shipping agent in order to pay for the shipping. ( the shipping costs of £1000.00)
You are requested to send this money by Moneygram which you do as you have been paid.. This Moneygram is untraceable and cashed immediately.
Meanwhile your bank tells you 10 days later that the original cheque has bounced and promptly takes the money out of your account.
You have just been conned. For £ 1000.00 !
Always, always, get your bank to confirm, in writing, that funds have cleared, are available for use and cannot be taken back from your account. Be cautious of overcomplicated transactions involving shipping agents, business partners, middle men and so on, all designed to leave you seriously out of pocket, and the crooks with your cash.
As with all online transactions please check the credentials of who are you are dealing with. If it sounds to good to be true, then it normally is.
UK shipping companies, or Freight Forwarders, belong to the British International Freight Association (BIFA). You can check their site here: www.bifa.org. Better still why not call the shipping agent personally and check them out. They do a good job and will be happy to help and advise on all things shipping.
This article has been written by Jim Limerick, managing director of 1st Move International Removals (www.shipit.co.uk) and Autoshippers UK (www.autoshippers.co.uk).
Members of the British International Freight Association., Membership Number 1884
1st Move International Ltd.
Bristol BS11 OYB
Tel 0117 9828123
Fax: 0117 9822229
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Jim Limerick is the managing direct of 1st Move International removals (www.shipit.co.uk) and Autoshippers car shipping (www.autoshippers.co.uk). He has been in the shipping business for over 30 years. His companies arrange International Removals and worldwide car shipping services.