Autotrader under attack from scammers – You’ve Been Warned.
Daring to Sell My Car with Auto Trader?
Special Offer in Autotrader Packages
“Autotrader rarely offer discounts and offers on their advertising, but if you click here you’ll get 40% off your advert should you not sell your car in your first ad campaign and choose to re-book – (offer valid from time this post went live)
Here is my recent case study on what they do and how it works
Read this article, share it with your friends and protect yourselves.
I bought a Toyota Yaris around six months ago. It was 13 years old and 74,000 miles. I paid £700 for it from a Citroen dealers in Northampton as a main dealer part exchange.
I began my motor trade career buying and selling “bangers” and it never leaves your blood. I’ve found no better feeling than buying a “golden oldie”, showing it some love and selling it for profit.
The idea was to buy and sell the Yaris for a profit but I was so impressed with this little motor that I ended up keeping it for six months and used it as a little run around. It was knocking out a staggering 46MPG (not bad for an old car) from a little 1000cc petrol engine, perfect for around the town.
I finally got around to getting my little Yaris up for sale on Autotrader and on this occasion I sold the car as a private seller. After all the car was registered in my name, I was the legal owner and it wasn’t bought through any of my businesses. (Dealers aren’t to buy and sell cars privately as a part of their business or if the car is not registered in their name.)
To sell my car I ensured the car was prepared with a valet, 12 months M.O.T, serviced, and the driver’s seat needed some stitching too.
With all the work complete I took my usual 10 photographs of the car as Auto Trader explain in their car selling best practice. I carried out a nice thorough description and ensured that any vehicle defects were listed as well as its assets.
I bought Autotrader’s Standard 3 week package as I felt sure to sell the car within this time frame. It’s really important that your car advert is mobile friendly too and their Standard package also offered this service.
£45.95 may seem a little steep but it really is worth the money. That bought me the best coverage and ensured the used car will be fed to targeted buyers around the country. When it comes to selling your car there is no better platform.
Here’s a snapshot of their order page and price list.
After I’d paid and made my order, Auto Trader dropped me an email stating the ad would take up to 24 hours to go live; however in less than 2 hours the Yaris was live and for sale.
I decided to ask full market value (and more according to Autotraders value guide) for my used Toyota. I wasn’t in a big rush to sell and the car was mechanically and structurally excellent for its age. Also I wanted to sell it for more money than I’d paid for it six month previous.
Within 72 hours I received a text from an individual but strangly the text was supposedly sent from “AUTOTRADER!” and read:
Hi, I’m Clara from Autotrader. Ms.Lynne will like to know if your car is still for sale? Pls. email her back to firstname.lastname@example.org Regards.
When I received this text I was immediately suspicious because:
1. I have been dealing with Autotrader for years and had never before received a text directly from Autotrader requesting that I email a third party
2. I am wise to scammers
However in the spirit of creating this article and the remote chance of making my sale I thought I’d follow through and make contact as requested.
It’s worth noting that I absolutely had no intention of parting with any money whatsoever at any point during the process of selling my car. I was already 95% confident that our future email exchange would at some point request that I send some money. It was only a matter of when and how much.
Here’s my first email in response to the text I’d received
First email sent by me:
Three hours later I received an email back from Ms. Lynne of Butterfields!
Wow what an email! Looking closely it’s meant to build trust and make me believe that she is genuine. The car’s a surprise birthday gift for her dad (pulling the heart strings.) She tells me she’s an engineer (not sure what butterfield bread has to do with engineering as butterfield bread appears to be a franchise.)
It looks like a scam because she’d like the car delivered.
Immediately this means she won’t be viewing the car before buying it, she’s simply going to trust me! She even asks me if the car has any service history yet my advert boldly spells out that the car has a full main dealer service history. Surely someone that’s going to buy a car without seeing it is going to read through the advert properly?
So by now I am 100% certain this is a car buying scam.
And just in case I had the slightest of doubts she goes on to tell me that her only method of payment is via PayPal as she doesn’t have access to her bank account online. She even sends me a link to set up a PayPal account in case I don’t already have one! Thanks so much.
Now I know it’s a con and I’m only using her content to help my readers.
My second email:
Third email sent by me:
(I blotted out my private email for the purposes of this article)
Right here in this email Lynne Skeet goes in for the kill. She’s (or he, who knows?) spent a bit of time here warming me up.
I’ve learned quite a lot about Lynne in the exchange. I know her occupation, that she’s at sea working, that the car is a gift for her father’s up-coming birthday and even the address of the receiver (there is a Tanners Drive in Milton Keynes but there isn’t a Unit 50 and there isn’t any other affiliations with my scammer.)
This is a nice sales pitch and I can see how easily someone could fall in this trap. I am being told to send a shipping fee of £550 directly to her PayPal account!
She even has the tenacity to advise that I take the advert down so I can’t sell the car to anyone else.
But what really got me was the final sentence “Nice doing business with you.”
This is clearly a professional scammer that is so confident in their abilities that they’re able to gloat. In truth Lynee has probably got scores of emails and points of contact going at the same time, and through a process of elimination she’ll earn a decent tax free living doing this stuff.
What can you do to stop this?
This is just one of the techniques scammers use on the Autotrader platform and there are ever more sophisticated ways of sucking money out of unsuspecting car owners.
Here’s some links that Autotrader provide us as a means of defence:
I wrote this article to demonstrate one of the ways today’s scammers work their way into our lives. It’s my hope that this article helps you to stay safe when selling your car.
My Golden Rules of Selling a Used Car on Autotrader
1. Never sell a car without seeing the buyer in person
2. Never meet a person at a mutual destination
3. Never send money to someone responding to your car advert.
If you carry out all three golden rules you won’t lose any of your hard earned money.
Incidentally, I sold my Toyota Yaris via Autotrader after 9 days of the ad going live. The sale came from someone calling me first and arranging a time to come and view the car. It’s traditional and it works.
What are your experiences of selling a car on Autotrader?
Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience on another platform such as Ebay or Motors?
The Used Car Guys tip: At the time of writing this article Autotrader are offering a 40% discount on any of their 3 ad types if you don’t sell the car from the first advert. You have to wait 21 days before they contact you offering this discount but it’s still nice to know just in case you don’t sell your car the first time around.
The Used Car Guy