Gardaí Warn About Dangers of Buying Cars Privately

June 23, 2014 0

78 cars (out of 79) have been recovered in the last three years after being purchased with fake bank drafts and sold onto unsuspecting buyers for cash. There have already been more cases this year (24) than in all of 2013 (21).

Gardaí are urging members of the public who are buying or selling their cars privately to take necessary precautions before finalising the sale.

In general, what happens is as follows –

gardaCriminals target members of the public who advertise their vehicles for sale on Irish classified websites. Contact is made expressing an interest in viewing and then purchasing the vehicle. The criminals also place adverts seeking “drivers wanted” on websites. The applicants are then asked to meet for an interview in pubs, hotel receptions or car parks. These drivers are instructed by phone to meet prospective sellers to view the vehicles.
The ciminals make arrangements over the phone without personally viewing the vehicle to purchase same using a bank draft. This transaction will take place in the evening time, usually a Friday evening. The draft is handed over and the driver receives the vehicle and vehicle registration certificate. The seller is told the buyer is in the motor trade and given an RF105 (Change of ownership to Motor dealer) form with details of a fictitious garage.

The vehicle is already re advertised on the internet below the market value to attract attention. It is then immediately resold, some times within hours, to an innocent purchaser.

When the false draft is discovered the vehicle is reported as stolen.

The most important advice we can offer to sellers and buyers is as follows (further advice in Notes):

  • If offered a bank draft, get details of that draft in advance and check it is legitimate with the bank/branch it’s purported to be from.
  • Avoid buying a car in a car park
  • If the seller is unwilling to provide details for verification, walk away

All the cars that were recovered were returned to their owners, and left the unsuspecting buyers out of pocket – one such person was down €40,000 last year.

Gardaí have been working closely with a number of Irish classified websites such as,, and the auto trader to trace the suspects, warn their customers and remove adverts that have been placed. Gardaí continue to investigate and liaise closely with financial institution and jobs websites advertising for drivers.

A number of arrests and searches have been carried out, but Gardaí hope that the public will take on board the advice to only accept Bank Drafts that are verified by the banks as genuine. If they are about to purchase a vehicle themselves consider a method of payment that is traceable.

Any information to contact Garda Crimestoppers – 1800 250025

Further details are available at


Advice to seller of a vehicle

  • If offered a bank draft for purchase of your car only accept it if you are sure it is genuine. Ask to be provided with details Bank/Branch that issued draft and the bank draft number during banking hours and contact the issuing branch to verify the draft
  • Consider calling to that bank to lodge draft/ check if it is genuine
  • The negotiations may be dragged out, but little there is little negotiation on the asking price. This to allow time to re advertise your vehicle before they even steal it
  • Be wary of accepting a bank draft at evening/weekends or outside banking hours
  • Avoid dealing with a “purchaser” over the phone who the sends a driver or employee to view your vehicle to conduct deal
  • Handing over Registration Certificate and receiving an RF105. Is this a legitimate motor dealer, do they have a garage/premises that can be verified contacted prior to the sale taking place
  • Ask the driver /employee who they are working for and how long they have worked for the garage

Advice to buyers

  • Never purchase a vehicle on first viewing
  • Research the price; be wary of purchasing vehicles below market value
  • Question the seller if he insists on cash only. Consider a traceable method of payment. Once cash is handed over if anything is wrong with the vehicle can you get your cash back
  • The deal may be dragged out before you get to view the vehicle but you are told to purchase quickly as there is a lot of interest in the vehicle
  • Be wary of dealing with one seller over the phone and a different person arrives to show the vehicle
  • Meet at a location which is the home/business premises of seller. Choose a neutral (venue to first view the vehicle but to conclude the deal call to the address on the vehicle registration certificate if purchasing the vehicle
  • Ask questions about the vehicle if the person showing the vehicle states they have only recently purchased the car and has very little information regarding seller/business or history of vehicle. This could be a scam
  • The seller may give a story that the vehicle is repossessed from a finance company or his own company is in financial trouble to explain the price

Advice to Drivers/Employees

  • Answering adverts for drivers wanted on jobs websites with very little details as to who employer is
  • Interviews conducted over the phone, via email or in public place such as a hotel reception
  • No contract of employment, recording of hours worked, details of motor insurance etc.
  • Cash in hand employment
  • Not attending at a garage or place of employment to collect keys drop vehicles off
  • You will never meet your employer who gives instructions over the phone to you. You may only meet other employee’s who have also been given instructions over the phone
  • Requests to view or examine a vehicle when you have no experience of same
  • Taxi drivers may be used to deliver car keys bank drafts to you
  • Being requested to give a story or false information about a car to prospective sellers/buyers
  • Drivers should be aware while they too are being conned, the Gardaí must investigate the scam. If they are found to have handled stolen property in a reckless manner the D.P.P. may prosecute them