Car buyers have been warned to be wary of used car deals that are ‘too good to be true’ after an investigation uncovered a fake website was conning buyers.
The website, called CarStar Autos, had ‘all the hallmarks of a scam’ according to Trading Standards, which investigated after Car Dealer Magazine raised the alarm.
CarStar Autos had been fraudulently claiming to have won the magazine’s Car Dealer Power Awards for nine years, and when challenged, insulted staff over the phone and said they were ‘not interested’ in removing the claims.
Upon further inspection, it was clear the site was using fake images of vehicles and staff, and advertising vehicles below the going rate.
Although it claimed to have a London address and phone number, these details had been cloned from a legitimate company called CarStar Automotive.
Director Danny Rota told Car Dealer Magazine that his legal team had been battling the scammers after being contacted by a member of the public who had been conned.
He told the magazine: “We were alerted to the site using our details when a member of the public contacted us about losing their money.
“They had entered into an agreement with CarStar Autos after finding a cheap car on the website and lost their money.
“We found the website was using our accountant’s address, our company registration number and part of the names of our directors.”
Edmund King, AA president, has urged buyers to be extra careful when buying online and do their research.
He said: “These fraudulent activities are incredibly worrying for consumers especially at a time when more people are buying online.
“As a general rule consumers should be cautious and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If Trading Standards can’t intervene then police fraud sections should intervene and take action.
“We also advise buyers the real importance of carrying out research before even thinking of giving a deposit or viewing or buying a car. What are average prices for this car? Does the ‘seller’ have any reviews?