Santander issues urgent Facebook scam warning as victims lose £479,964

Santander issues urgent Facebook scam warning as victims lose £479,964
Car buyers are losing thousands of pounds in a new Facebook Marketplace scam, according to a motoring news report from Santander.

Fraudsters are using stolen photos and videos of genuine vehicles to advertise cars that they don’t own. Once they have used the stolen photos and videos to convince the buyer to purchase the vehicle, the fraudster will then not respond or block the buyer after they have transferred the funds.

Research from Santander suggests that almost £500,000 has been lost in 2023, an increase of 93% when compared to 2022.

Santander's data covers January 2023 – September 2023 and compares it with the same time period in 2022. It shows that £479,964 has been reported as lost to Facebook car scams in 2023. In November, Santander fraud investigators found, in just half an hour, 25 ‘sellers’ posting around 4,000 fake adverts on Facebook Marketplace.

People aged 18-25 are the most likely to be a victim to car scams on Facebook with 20% of all cases from this age group. The over-60s account for 14% of scam victims, while 41–45-year-olds make up 12.5% of all cases.

The over-60s lost the largest sums to scammers, with an average claim made for £1,564 so far this year. This an annual increase from £748.06 reported in 2022. People aged 56-60 reported the second largest losses with an average claim for £1,528, followed by 26–30-year-olds who were third with an average claim of £1,263.

Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander said: “Scammers are stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from people falling foul of car scams on online marketplaces.

“But people can help put the brakes on these scams by learning the telltale signs of fake listings and doing due diligence before transferring any funds.

“For this particular type of scam, the single best thing anybody can do to protect their money is to not transfer any funds until the vehicle is in their possession, and they have seen it in person.”

Facebook Marketplace car scam - how it works

  • You click on an advert for a vehicle you like the look of. Then you start a conversation with the seller.
  • They reassure you through their messages that everything’s above board. 
  • They might even share official looking contracts. Or give details of money-back guarantees. 
  • They’ll ask you to pay upfront. This may be just the deposit to ‘secure the deal’. But could be for the full amount of the purchase. 
  • They will ask you to make payment by bank transfer. 
  • After you have sent the money the contact stops and the seller disappears.
  • You are left without the new vehicle, and you’ve lost your money.

In response to the report, a Meta spokesperson said: “We recognise our important role in tackling the industry-wide issue of online purchase scams and have systems in place to block scams. 

“Facebook Marketplace is a local meet up and collection service so we don't facilitate payments or shipping, but scammers exploit this by taking conversations off our platforms where we can't enforce. 

“We encourage our community to report scams immediately so we can take action and we'll continue equipping customers with knowledge to transact securely and avoid fraud on Marketplace.”

If you are looking for a legitimate place to get a new or used car to buy, then check out RAC Cars.

Have you ever experienced any car scams online? What happened? Leave your story in the comments below.

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