How To Avoid Getting Scammed in America

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Elise

Written by Elise

18th May 2020

How To Avoid Getting Scammed in America
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How To Avoid Getting Scammed in America

One of the most common and justified worries of entering the motorsports community even as an enthusiast is the fear of getting scammed. America especially is rife with clever and experienced scammers. They can spin you a tale of woe and excuses to make you buy their (inexistent) car right then and there without so much as a visual. It’s easy to shrug it off as a trap for idiots, but there’s a reason scamming is so common: anyone can fall victim to it.

There are several things to look out for when buying a car, especially if you’re buying in the United States, and especially if it’s your first time considering a classic car. Getting scammed is no joke. In no particular order, watch out if:

1. The car is cheap.

Nowadays anyone can educate themselves on the price a classic Mustang should cost. Therefore, if the Mustang is advertised by the alleged original or second owner, they undoubtedly have friends, family, daughters, sons etc. who can price check on Google in seconds. Usually getting scammed comprises of sending a large deposit or full payment as “there are other people lining up to buy it”. They can be very convincing in trying to sell a car that doesn’t exist.

2. There is a risk of double selling.

In rare instances, a car owner will sell it in the UK, and while the deal is going through also sell it to someone else locally in the States. The process of sending money across the pond and then a transporter picking the car up from the location can take a few weeks to organise. If they are not homeowners, they sometimes disappear without a trace.

3. The advertising is misleading.

All classic cars are sold as is, with no warranty whatsoever. There is no comeback on any description given to you in either verbal, written or photographic form. In fairness, there are many genuine sellers out there who have no idea on the condition of their car underneath. On occasion, we have been to look at show winners that were completely rusty underneath, suffered major accidents, had a cracked chassis or had bodywork full of filler. This sort of flaw can easily be hidden with correctly taken photographs. Do you research and ask the right questions.

4. Your appraiser immediately asks for payment.

We all know the worth of second opinions. However, where tens of thousands of dollars or pounds and getting scammed are concerned, a third opinion is best. Lots of these guys will charge £500-£1000 to go and view a car you found. There are good guys out there but do your homework first: check their credentials and look for someone who is licensed, then check their license with the authority who issued it. Make sure you get what you pay for. Tell them what photos you need and what you would like checked. If the car is a genuine bargain, make sure you follow up with the buyer immediately after the appraiser has been. We were once assured by an appraiser that a car did not meet our standards, and the next day he bought it himself!

5. The pictures are stolen.

Check the car you are buying is the same one as in the photograph! We once drove from Arizona to LA to purchase a car and discovered the owner had used a photograph of another black Mustang ripped off the internet. In this case it was obvious the photograph wasn’t his, but he thought we would still buy it as we had driven so far. Use your common sense, and use Google to reverse search any digital image.

6. The vehicle is listed as a ‘dry state’ car.

Many sellers will use this as an ad line. It gives the impression that the car has ‘lived’ all its life in states such as California or Arizona, whose arid climates greatly help to maintain rust-susceptible vehicles in good condition. It may have resided there over the last few years but been in New York for 40 years through all the rain, snow and salted roads. As a result, the chassis and floors will be rusted through. Remember, there is no MOT system in the US to check for corrosion.

The purpose of this article is not to frighten anyone off from buying in the United States. However, we feel it is necessary to educate potential buyers on what can happen if proper caution is not exercised. There are many quality dealers who sell quality cars. Generally most people are trustworthy, but there are plenty who are not. Some maybe do not quite understand what standards a quality classic Mustang should reach prior to sale. We have a number of clients with horror stories about buying from the States. Some of them got scammed out of thousands of pounds at once! So be warned.

Have a story of your own? For a chance to feature on our blog, submit them here. For more information and expert tips on car buying and restoration, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


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