A Perth woman has revealed the emotional story used by scammers that duped her out of thousands of dollars while she tried to buy a car on Facebook Marketplace.
Violet Saxton paid $4550 for a vehicle she never received and now believes did not actually exist, after coming across an online ad for a Mazda 3 last October.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Perth woman scammed in car sale rort on Facebook Marketplace.
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Having searched for that model for a month, the primary school worker sent a message to the seller asking if it was still available.
In follow-up exchanges, Saxton was told the car had been listed on behalf of her niece who had moved to Darwin with her two children after the death of her husband.
Saxton said she was supplied with plenty of information about the car and several photos, and soon agreed to make the purchase – without seeing it in person.
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The car hunter was sent a document asking for her identification and a selfie, which she handed over – along with the money.
The next day she was shocked by a request for an additional $2000 fee to have the car delivered from the NT capital, a 3800-kilometre journey by road.
The alarm bells began to blast and she “cottoned on” that she had been taken for a ride.
Saxton’s first moves were to contact the authorities and race to her bank, but it was too late.
“The transaction was pending, I tried to get it stopped, but turned out they couldn’t be stopped,” she said.
“The money got transferred to Bitcoin straight away, so it couldn’t be traced. So I lost $4550.”
Violet Saxton. Credit: 7NEWS
Saxton, who was also unsure if her identity had been stolen, is one of close to 300 victims scammed while trying to buy a car online in the COVID and post-pandemic sales boom.
Lost deposits total hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To better protect online buyers in WA – where 70 per cent of used cars are sold via private sales – Consumer Protection has launched a new safety checklist that comes with a guide on how to inspect for damage, encourages independent mechanic inspections and offers a link to a security check for $2.
Dealers are in the sights of the WA Government too, with planned legislative changes to force motor vehicle dealers to make it clear if a car under 15 years old is a repairable write-off.
Consumer Protection has released an easy-to-follow used car buyer’s checklist to ensure buyers aren’t taken for a ride when purchasing a second-hand car. Credit: 7NEWS
Repairable write-offs are cars that have been repaired but still need to pass a roadworthiness check before they can return to the streets.
The new regulations will include a $2,000 penalty to dealers who don’t comply, while false or misleading statements on sale forms displayed on the car will draw a fine of $5,000.
“These new regulations and the release of the used car buyer’s checklist will bring some peace of mind to buyers in Western Australia who are looking for a used car that is safe, roadworthy and reliable,” Commerce Minister Sue Ellery said.
“Prospective used car buyers are strongly encouraged to do a $2 PPSR check using the VIN number found in the owner’s manual before purchasing a used car to avoid buying a repairable write-off, a vehicle that is stolen, or that has finance owing.”
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