Of late there have been a large number of listings for relatively new cars appearing with £0.01 start and Pre-Approved Buyers Only status. When you look through these listings you find the seller is requestiong contact through a Hotmail or Yahoo address claiming that either the EBay account is at his workplace and he is on holiday or his EBay email box is full!
Just out of interest and amusement I contacted one of these people who was selling a 2005 BMW 5 series and it had a Buy Now price of around £4500. The book price was well in excess of that, but I wasn't being fooled anyway.
The 'seller' ( who called herself Florance' claimed she was in Denmark and didn't want to pay the import duties for the UK registered car, wasn't sure if Denmark would allow a right-hand drive car to be registered there, and would pay all shipping charges to get this gleaming vehicle to my home address within 4 days. Yeah, right. (I later got the same story from a 'Hungarian' who had somehow managed to get a Land Rover Freelander AND a Vauxhall VXR200 to Hungary but - you guessed it - didn't want to pay the import duties for the UK registered car, wasn't sure if Hungary would allow a right-hand drive car to be registered there, and would pay all shipping charges to get this gleaming vehicle to my home address within 4 days...)
I emailed Florance back and asked her to take a scan of the V5 for me and also could she please take a photo of the nearside rear passenger door hinges as (I claimed) they were a known issue with BMW owing to rust penetration.
No rust on this car! Not a spot anywhere, the hinges were seen to by BMW before she moved to Denmark! How nice of them to do that, given there would be no need.
OK, fine, I said, but one more thing - has the car had its annual head gasket replacement this year?
Yes, done by BMW in April. Done last year too.
Now as you may be guessing, this car was not for sale and the 'seller' didn't have it in Denmark. (And the seller wasn't a regular Top Gear viewer...) The pictures were taken from BMW brochure and, oddly enough, one of them showed the car on a grass verge with a London bus passing by on its way to Willesden.
This is one of the easiest scams to identify and I wonder at the stupidity of the people carrying them out because thay have paid for a car advert and no one who isn't on medication would think of paying out money via Western Union to them. Except that they haven't paid - someone else has... see below.
I did contact 'Florance' again and asked if my cousin Lars from Copenhagen could come and view the car but she didn't reply. I was upset because we were getting on so well and I was about to ask if she was on MSN so we could chat...
More recently, a spate of scams that place indecent photos in car adverts which, if you open up the listing opens a page asking you to log in (despite the fact that you are already logged in.) If you put your details in the boxes and hit enter, you will have given the seller your ID and password - it's known as phishing and it is how 'Florance' got the advert up - the person who appeared to be advertising was a genuine EBayer who had had his ID stolen. My recommendation, if you don't mind seeing indecent pictures, is open up the listing and put some spurious nonsense into the boxes - I put ballcracker as ID and p***o** (expletives deleted!) as password. As soon as you do that you will get to a page that says the listing has been removed. But they'll have your nonsense to try and put another advert up!
Finally, there are some genuine £0.01 start car adverts from genuine people - I know, I bought a car off one and it was a fine vehicle and the seller was a fine man. But as we all know, decent car dealers are an endangered species, so - let's be careful out there.