Ebay Classic Car Fraudsters on the Rise

Recent Scamming Revelations Shock Enthusiasts

One of the stand out stories about classic car fraudsters this year was the revealing of a $4.5 million crime scheme in the US. News such as this is becoming more common which is unfortunate, as online market places have provided a place for enthusiasts to take advantage of great deals and keep essential parts in circulation.

This incident displayed that scammers are not working alone as it was reported that the ring of fraudsters was made up of 25 men. The crimes were committed online and over the phone using a number of techniques including impersonating classic car dealers, collectors and transporters. Once large amounts of money were transferred to bank accounts the scammers organised themselves to withdraw cash from numerous branches and at different intervals to avoid detection.

Should Ebay Take Part of the Blame?

You would hope that those who manage online market places would be aiming to protect its users. In contrast there are suggestions that there has been a large failing on their behalf to distinguish and prevent scammers using their websites. A scapegoat used to avoid blame is a piece of legislation called the e-commerce directive 2000 which states that if the service provider is not aware of a bogus seller then they not responsible for the fraudulent listing. This forces classic car enthusiasts to be extra diligent as any mistakes made may be perceived as their own responsibility. This approach is unfair as scammers are increasingly becoming better at what they do and common sense doesn’t always protect you from their tricky techniques.

Our top tips for avoiding classic car scams

To combat these fraudsters Heritage has put together a list of tips to help you when shopping online:

What to Look Out For

  • Be wary of low prices unless there’s something very obviously wrong with the item on sale which warrants a reduced price
  • Be suspicious of 99p auction listings as this is a very typical technique used by fraudsters
  • Be cautious of large deposits of money you may have to pay
  • Check for duplicates of the item on sale both on the specific website you found the listing plus other marketplaces
  • Be suspicious of listings that contain text within the image of the item on sale. Scammers do this as any text in the image won’t be detected by software used to pick up fraudulent activity
  • Check the seller’s profile for previous items listed, feedback, reviews and how long they have had an account. Red light warning would be if they have never sold an item before, whether they are selling an unrealistic collection of vehicles which would more likely found hosted by an official classic car auction house, if they same vehicle is attempted to be sold over and over again, if the account is very new as scammers have to abandon old accounts which get blacklisted and any other characteristics you find puzzling and suspicious.
  • Avoid communication with sellers over anything but the messaging application provided by the marketplace. Scammers want you to talk with them over email, over the phone and even face-to-face as these conversations are unregulated and unmonitored by the marketplace.
  • When paying for anything online always check for the padlock near the web address

What you should always ask:

  • If you can see additional photos of the vehicle and any relevant documents
  • If you can visit the seller to inspect the item on sale
  • For the registration of the vehicle so you can perform your own checks. This is not a fault proof check as fraudsters will duplicate existing honest listing and use photos of other vehicles which will display a safe history on DVLA records when checked.


As previously mentioned this list is not 100% fault proof as scammers are always finding new ways to steal honest people’s money. Nonetheless this checklist will definitely help you when searching for classic cars and parts online.

Join the conversation

If you feel like we’ve missed anything important off our list please let us know on social media and if you’ve got any negative or positive experiences we’d like to hear them as well. The best way to get involved is to leave a comment about this issue on our Facebook Page.

While you should be on high alert about eBay scammers, it is also important to know about the dangers of ghost brokers offering false insurance deals. By reading our article below, you’ll be able to learn more about how these scams work, the consequences and how to avoid them in the future.

Read more on ghost brokers: Click Here