A DRIVER lost all of his savings – and some of his mum's – after buying a £4,000 car online that never turned up.
Pietro Pagliuca, from West Yorkshire, transferred thousands over to an online car dealership to buy a second-hand Nissan Qashqai.
Pietro and his mum pooled together their savings to buy the car, after his one broke down.
They both needed the car, as Pietro's mum has mobility issues and needs to be driven around – but it never came.
He told the BBC: "I feel let down, annoyed and a bit embarrassed.
"I honestly didn't have doubts about them. It all looked legit, and a lot of companies deliver stuff these days."
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The website looked convincing because the name of the car dealership – Auto-Promotions – was taken from a former legitimate company.
Crooks had taken the name to set up a fake website advertising hundreds of second-hand vehicles at lower prices than other dealerships.
Pietro spoke to someone pretending to be a sales director at the dealership, which was enough to convince him to hand over his cash.
He reported the scam to his bank, and got half of his cash back.
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But Pietro said it will still take him a year to save up enough money for a new car, and he has to travel everywhere by bike – while his mum is largely confined to her house.
It comes as a BBC investigation revealed online vehicle theft had gone up by 21% in 2021 compared to 2019, costing drivers £9.5million.
How to spot the signs of a car scam
There are a number of red flags drivers need to look out for if they are considering splashing out on a new car online.
Make sure you check the price of the vehicle you want against rival online car dealerships.
If the vehicle that is advertised is being sold for far less than other models in similar condition, it could be too good to be true.
Another red flag is if the seller is difficult to contact.
If their phone number rings out, or the advert tells you to email the dealership, you will want to be wary.
If you can physically talk to the person selling the car, it could be a con.
So if the car is advertised as being held abroad and will need to be shipped, it could be a fraud.
What to do if you've been the victim of a fraud
If you think you've been scammed, call your bank immediately using the number on the back of the card.
Tell Action Fraud, report it online or by calling 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm).
It will tell the police and give you a crime reference number.
Some banks offer automatic refunds – but it does vary.
Current rules say if you have not authorised the payment, then you should get a refund as long as you did not act fraudulently or with “gross negligence”, for example, giving away your PIN number or password.
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