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What is phishing car and how to avoid falling into the trap?

What is a phishing car?

Phishing a car – committed online for many years by criminal organizations of cybercriminals. Who are increasingly difficult to identify since they publish vehicle sales ads with real data and on authentic web pages.

What is a phishing car?

Are you thinking of taking your car to the junkyard and buying a second-hand one? Then you may be interested in reading this.

Phishing car is a scam that occurs through the Internet and more specifically on the pages for the sale of second-hand vehicles. It is a fraud in which the alleged seller tries to obtain money from his victim through a decoy, that is, a vehicle for sale at a competitive price compared to the rest of the offer.

It is a situation that affects thousands of people a year, and in fact, it is so widespread that phishing car is the leading cause of complaints in Spain.

How Cybercriminals Perform Phishing Car?

We explain the modus operandi of these organizations:

  1. They publish an advertisementThe most common is that they use a well-known car buying websites to avoid arousing suspicion. They generally use photographs of authentic cars that they have taken from real sellers they have previously contacted posing as potential buyers.

To attract the attention of the victim, they usually put a price below that of other advertisements for the sale of vehicles with similar characteristics, although this situation does not always occur.

  1. They wait for their victim to contact them. When he detects the buyer’s interest in seeing the vehicle in person, the scammer mentions that the car is abroad, and to see it, a down payment must be paid.

If it is the case that the exchange of information with the scammer takes place by phone, it is convenient to check whether the number from which the call is made is foreign.

If communication occurs via email, we recommend checking the text in case it could have copied from a translator.

  1. Use strategies to pressure the buyer. They use pretexts to incite the victim to buy as soon as possible, such as that they have other interested parties or that it is urgent to sell because they have to leave the country.
  2. Preparation of the alleged delivery. The cybercriminal tries to convince the buyer that the shipment must be made through a transport agency, claiming that he cannot travel to Spain for personal reasons.
  3. First payment transaction. The scammer asks the buyer to make a payment in the amount of half the agreed price in exchange for sending him the vehicle documentation. This documentation is most cases is false since they do not have the vehicle, much less its papers.

What they achieve with this way of operating is that the victim trusts when seeing the documentation, which a priori seems real, and makes the transfer for the agreed amount.

Making it very difficult to track them and find the final destination of these transactions.

  1. Simulation of a problem with Customs. Since no shipment made, it is the scammer who contacts the victim, pretending to belong to the transport company. The reason is the supposed stoppage of the shipment by Customs, which requires full payment of the amount.

It is then that the buyer contacts the alleged seller, who kindly lends himself to return the amount of the first transfer for the value of 50% of the total price of the vehicle. And tells him to make the payment that the agency claims. transportation. The proof of payment sent to the victim is false.

  1. Making the second payment. If the injured party suspects that he may be the victim of a scam, he may not make the second payment, in which case he loses the amount delivered in the first transfer.

Worse is the situation in which, trusting that the receipt is real, the buyer makes the second payment, since the cybercriminal disappears and can never contact him again.

How to avoid falling into the phishing car trap?


As we have mentioned previously, this scam is widespread on the internet in the second-hand car buying and selling sector and it is very difficult to detect these cyber scammers. Therefore, we recommend that you take extreme precautions when buying a second-hand car online.

Next, we leave you some recommendations that will help you not to fall into the networks of these scammers:

  1. Only use pages that start the URL with https: //, this extension tells us that they are reliable pages.
  2. Suspicion of sellers who claim to live abroad, who claim that the vehicle is located outside of the country or who provide foreign bank accounts and phone numbers.
  3. Do not trust sellers who only give the option to communicate via e-mail.
  4. Do not pay amounts in advance before you have seen the vehicle in person. Please review it thoroughly.
  5. Look for opinions about the seller in forums and pages. You may find notices that you are facing imminent fraud.
  6. Be wary of unusually low prices.
  7. Ask the seller for photos of specific parts of the vehicle, such as frame number, engine, tires, the interior of the trunk, etc. And be suspicious if they make excuses for not showing you the images you require.

What did you think of the article? Did you know that these types of scams existed? Has it ever happened to you or do you know someone who has suffered this type of fraud?


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