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Auto theft and fraud

Calgarians need to beware when buying and selling vehicles online. Fraudulent bank drafts, accompanied by fake identification, are being used to purchase vehicles from legitimate sellers. Once the transaction is complete, and the seller has relinquished the vehicle, it is later determined that the bank draft was illegitimate and the seller has no way to reclaim the vehicle.

These fraudulently obtained vehicles, often worth $30,000 to $60,000, are then being sold to new buyers. In many cases the VIN is altered to allow the registration of what would appear to be a legitimate sale. The offenders walk away with the funds, while the buyer is left with an illegitimate purchase that can end up being seized by authorities.

Sellers are advised to accompany buyers to a legitimate bank, observe a bank draft being ordered and to have it in their possession prior to releasing the vehicle to the buyer.
Buyers are advised to inquire about the vehicle’s history of ownership and to inspect the seller’s registration documentation carefully.

Be wary of:

  • A vehicle that has been re-registered within six months.
  • Documentation in a name not corresponding to the ID of the seller.
  • A seller who refuses to provide picture ID.
  • A seller who is unable to give clear details about the vehicle’s history of ownership that can be verified (i.e. a dealership/salesman/previous owner that you can contact).
  • A seller who won’t allow you to come to their residence.
  • A seller who can’t provide supporting documentation for the vehicle (i.e. mechanical work, oil changes, other servicing, etc.).
  • When conducting background research on a vehicle you find that the vehicle has been previously registered out of province or in the United States.
  • A price that is below the fair market value of the vehicle.

There is no one indicator that will identify a criminal purchaser or seller, but the more red flags present, the more cautious a consumer should be.