Surrey, British Columbia – British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) is warning of predators who are attempting to swindle private individuals who advertise vehicles for sale. The warning was prompted by three identical reports from the Canadian Recreation Vehicle industry, each concerning identical text e-mails.

The latest incident is a variation of a scam that prompted a warning from the B.C. authority during 2008.

The recent occurrence involves sellers who receive an e-mail from an individual, most likely using an alias, using a public domain address such as Yahoo or Google. He presents himself as an agent for a buyer who makes a flat cash offer significantly higher than the advertised sales price, “to cover shipping and handling.” The agent states that a cashier’s “check” for the amount will be mailed by express, to be followed by the arrival of the shipper who will inspect the vehicle and finalize the sale.

The seller is instructed to send the shipper the difference between the advertised sales price and the cashier’s cheque to cover the transport, taxes, and ownership transfer.

“What the seller will discover is that the cashier’s cheque is counterfeit, but days could pass before bank clearing houses detect the problem,” said Ian Christman, VSA deputy registrar. “The scam depends upon the seller’s payment for shipping and handling being received before the fraud becomes known. A simple way to protect oneself and expose the scam would be to advise the buyer that you would be pleased to have the cheque certified, following which payment to the shipper would be made.”

Vehicle sellers will be held fully responsible for their bank for any counterfeit or NSF cheques, including fees, interest, and repayment of the full amount deposited. The VSA advises anyone receiving such a solicitation to report it to the police, their bank, or appropriate consumer agencies.

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