Buyer beware: buying a used car on Facebook is 'risky'
An Indian student who bought a car from a seller on Facebook says it was towed away by a finance company just weeks later.
West Auckland man Amit Godara said he did not know money was owed on the 2005 Mazda Demio when he paid the seller $2500 in cash – money he had been saving for months.
The 21-year-old said the registration was transferred to his name on August 4. It was not until a tow truck turned up at his home on September 20 that he realised he had been cheated.
Consumer NZ spokeswoman Maggie Edwards said Godara was one of many people who had been stung by Facebook scammers.
The social networking site was a "risky venue" to do business, she said.
Facebook was not designed to be a marketplace because it was often difficult to establish the seller's details, Edwards said.
She said she had seen "much worse" transactions done through Facebook.
In one instance a buyer lost money after they paid a user posing as caravan seller. It later turned out the person was not the actual owner and had only put up a picture of the vehicle.
"If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is," she said.
Godara said the police told him they could not help because it was a private sale.
It all began when he posted a 'looking for car' message on a Facebook group earlier this year and was contacted by a seller with a good deal.
The pair met so Godara could check the car. Satisfied with its condition, he paid cash and the seller transferred the registration to his name.
When the car was towed six weeks later, he said he tried to contact the seller via Facebook, but never heard back.
A representative of the loan company, Go Car Finance, said no one was available to comment.
Any details of the finance would not be disclosed due to privacy reasons, he said.
If the seller had an unpaid loan on the car, the finance company may have been within its rights to repossess the vehicle, according to Consumer NZ.
Godara could go to the Disputes Tribunal, but the outcome depended on whether the defendant could be contacted.
Consumer NZ tips to avoid a scam on Facebook:
- If buying a car then check it actually exists and the seller is in New Zealand.
- Check details via the following websites: