Avoid Scammers - Watch Out For These Common Tactics

Buying Guides

Avoid Scammers - Watch Out For These Common Tactics

With an abundance of information and professional reviews, rarely does one have to do much ‘tyre kicking’; to find and negotiate a good deal these days. Unfortunately, the downside of the information age is the ever-present threat of online scams and cyber con-schemes that are all too ready to capitalise on the less informed of car buyers.

As the online listings grow ever larger, so do the magnitude and complexity of cyber scamming, but here are a few red flags to look out for during your next purchase.

The price is “too-good-to-be-true”

Photo credit: www.pexels.com

The oldest trick in the book. Nothing quite attracts a prospective buyer like offering the deal of the century. But, beware, With the advent of online classifieds, there is ample transparency as to what the general market asks for a particular car. Even less knowledgeable sellers are inclined to perform market checks online before finally determining a reasonable selling price for their own vehicle – so anyone who would price a car much lower is mostly up to no good.

The scam will normally involve telling the prospective buyer that the car already has a confirmed purchaser, that will be coming on the day to pay a deposit. If you still want the vehicle, you’d have no choice but to wire transfer funds as a deposit, to secure your purchase. At which point, the seller detaches from the deal, with your money safely in his bank account.

What to do:

Speed is the ultimate weapon in a good scam, by making you believe you have limited time, one may be inclined to throw caution to the wind. Take your time, research prevailing market rates over time. Do not limit your searches just the classifieds, read up forums and arm yourself with good credible knowledge of the vehicle and speak with owners on what to look out for and the price you should pay. 

In the case of older classic or collectible cars – your best guide will be to participate in classic car meets or convoys, more than often, existing owners are very happy to share their knowledge and experience, which can be a godsend on your next purchase. But if the deal sounds too good to be true, the chances are… it is!

Owner impersonation

Picture credit: Facebook, Chris Wee

To quote a friend's personal experience, he once found his own car re-advertised on an online classified site, months after the vehicle was actually sold. Pictures of the car were reuploaded, with a substantially lower asking price in an effort to lure unassuming buyers.

The scammer's modus operandi involved transferring a small sum or deposit to view and test drive the car, at which point, the "seller" detaches from the deal.

What to do:

Never pay a deposit, regardless of it being a small or large sum if you cannot see, start and drive the car first. Also, inspect the vehicle registration card and cross check the owner's name, engine and chassis code to see if they match up. If they don't, walk away.

In some cases, yes, owners may elect representatives or dealers in the event they’re unable to be around, but the buyer can also request to hold off on the deal until the owner is present – conclude final negotiations then.

Incomplete or fishy paperwork

Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Photo credit: www.puspakom.com.my

This is a growing occurrence and one that is not limited to just scam artists but unscrupulous used car dealers as well. A growing number of clone cars seem to be making their way in from Singapore, in most cases, these cars are due for scrappage after the vehicle’s Certificate of Entitlement (COE) expires, instead, are transported here by organised syndicates. At this point, these smuggled cars are given forged or downright fake documents and sold as legitimate second-hand cars.

What to do:

Always ask for the Puspakom inspection forms when purchasing a car. Most used car dealers will perform the inspection upon obtaining the car from a private seller or company, and in the case of a private purchase, request that a Puspakom inspection is done before you pay a deposit or down payment.

Puspakom even offers mobile inspection services that can be performed at the owner’s residence, where you as the buyer can be present as well. If the car was brought in from tax-free zones such as Labuan or Langkawi, request for official Royal Malaysian Customs documentation and get them verified prior to purchasing the car.

What you see is not what you get

Photo credit: www.pexels.com

Photo credit: www.flickr.com

It’s in the best interest of the seller to have attractive pictures of the car in order to attract buyers. However, if the actual car is substantially different from the ad, beware. Some pictures might deliberately be framed to hide certain issues or shortcomings of the car. In some other cases, unscrupulous sellers will also use pictures that are available online to advertise an otherwise incomplete or less than satisfactory vehicle.

What to do:

The best defense against this tactic is to arm yourself with ample knowledge of the vehicle. This ties in with the first point, by talking to existing owners and reading up forums, one is better equipped to suss out common problems find irregularities with the car. If you’re unsatisfied with what you see, walk away!

Buying With Confidence

One effective way of protecting yourself from unscrupulous sellers or used car dealers with a poor reputation is to look out for theTrusted Dealer tag on the Carlist.my advertisement. A little green thumb on seller information field points out that the dealer is genuine, with a good history of providing good customer service and support.

A Trusted Dealer is required to uphold the best car selling practices, as defined and certified by Carlist.my. Every Trusted Dealer ad is confirmed to meet the listing quality metrics and is reviewed and updated consistently by the advertiser to prevent misinformation. Prices are also updated frequently to provide the best deals to prospective buyers.




Arvind describes a car in the same way he would describe a woman; this is not very healthy. Unlike the eternal sunshine of a spotless mind, soulful naturally-aspirated soundtracks and trigger quick (self-applied) gearshifts are all that fill the darkest recesses of his mind. Arvind is still trying to understand women...

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