Selling your car and having to avoid the Paypal scam

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 2011-06-02

It's bad enough having to part with a classic you love without having to avoid all the scams that go with it. I thought I was pretty world wise and have managed to avoid a few classicly dodgy attempts when I've sold cars over the years. Recently one guy contacted me, he said he was a diver working on a rig, really liked the car. His dad used to have one when he was young, it would be a great present for him. I know these guys pull down big money so dropping 10k on a present for his dad who'd just retired didn't seem too much of a stretch. He couldn't come and see the car as he would be offshore fro the next three weeks. Could I send him as many images as possible. I was really happy to as the car is mint.

He got back to me and said he loved the car and wanted to buy it. That was when my suspicion started. He was pretty determined to pay via a Paypal transfer. I wasn't familiar with this as I only use Paypal for buying the odd thing on e-bay. He said he'd pay all the fees etc and arrange pick up. I decided to ask around and was informed this was a scam!

Apparrantly the money transfer can be cancelled even after it looks like the cash is in your account and you've let the car go. I've always ensisted on cash only and that everyone comes to view the car. This was a new one on me and sounded really plausible - until the Paypal issue was raised. 

Since then I've had a few people contact me and ask to buy the car but are too busy to come and see but will pay via a Paypal transfer. Maybe this is something the magazine can raise with Paypal? Anyone else encountered this?




Russell Campbell
Russell Campbell's picture
Joined: 2011-12-21

Hi Chris,

Sadly, there are a few of these scams going about, although I'm not aware of any of our users falling victim to one.

C&SC would always advise dealing with buyers/sellers face-to-face. It is unlikely that someone would buy a car without first having inspected it. It does happen, though, and in this case we would advise handing nothing over until the cash or car is in your possession. Scammers will usually assume an identity via email and will likely feed you a long-winded story explaining why they can't view the car. If the only contact you have is via email be highly suspicious. It is extremely unlikely a scammer will ever speak on the phone.

The scam you refer to is covered in our fraud-warning page, which you can find here. As you know the scammers ask you to handle the transaction through PayPal, claiming that they have paid money into your account, but accidently put in £500 too much. You then receive an email claiming to be from PayPal confirming this is the case and asking you to pay balance back to the "buyer". Do this and you'll lose your £500. PayPal is aware of this scam, but it is technically impossible for it to stop its insignia being copied into an email and therefore it is difficult to combat the problem.

Have a thorough read of our fraud page and spotting this kind of thing will be much easier. Hope this helps.


Chris Martin
Joined: 2011-08-20

There are many variations on these scams, some genuinely through Paypal, and some not.

However, having seen many of the tricks pulled over the years of trading on ebay, I can say that Paypa is NOT a safe option, While it tries to live up to it's claim for buyer protection, there seems to be little seller protection. There are many ways someone who has paid through Paypal can reverse the payment, and whatever the truth of the case, it is decided by Paypal seemingly based solely on evidence and claims from both parties submitted by email. I know of more than one case where they have got it wrong, and it seems to not matter if the sum involved is small change or big bikkies. I still use Paypal for occasional online buying where convenient, but will not accept payment for anything that way. I have since given up selling on ebay because the odds are too stacked in favour of the con-man.


Chris M.


Joined: 2012-08-21

Don't fall prey to a scam. You can avoid this if you have enough knowledge about car deals. There are a bevy of rip-off artists working everywhere, in every nation and in every state, at every moment. Naturally, this reaches the purchasing and selling of vehicles, so customers should invariably be meticulous of used car frauds.