30 Jun 2020 9:16pm
Police are issuing a warning to people considering selling their cars online, after three men were arrested over an interstate fraud operation.
It will be alleged that on Friday 26 June, a man agreed to sell his Audi sedan after speaking to a potential buyer online. The victim invited the man to his house, where the suspect arrived with two other men. They agreed to buy the car for $19,000, and told the victim they would deposit a cheque into his account. The cheque was deposited via an ATM in Victoria, and was shown as ‘pending’ in the bank account.
The victim then handed over the keys to the Audi, and the three men left the house with the car.
The victim was informed a few days later that the cheque had bounced, and he was left with no car and no payment.
In a separate incident on Monday 29 June, the same thing happened to a second victim, who agreed to sell the same men a BMW sedan for $17,900. He was also told that a cheque would be deposited into his account which was done in the same Victorian location, and the second victim gave them the keys to his car, which they then drove away from his house.
Today (Tuesday 30 June) both vehicles were listed for sale on a buy-sell-swap website. Both vehicles were being sold by the same seller for a reduced price.
Police later located the Audi in a car park on Philip Highway at Elizabeth. Patrols monitored the car from a distance, then about 4pm police saw three men arrive in the second vehicle (the BMW). All three men immediately approached the Audi on foot.
Police then converged on the scene and arrested all three men. A 20-year-old man from Craigmore, a 20-year-old man from Evanston and a 19-year-old Elizabeth Vale man were all charged with theft. They were all bailed to appear in court at a later date.
Both vehicles were recovered and towed away for forensic examination.
In both incidents the deposited cheques have not cleared and have never had any funds in the account.
Police recommend that anyone thinking of buying or selling goods online use the following tips:
Arrange to meet the other person in a public place, such as a shopping centre or public car park to exchange the items
Ask for a receipt or some sort of proof of purchase
Keep a record of all transactions if you are paying for the item in instalments
Ensure funds are actually in your account prior to handing over your property, and not just pending transfer prior to completing any sale with a potential buyer.
If you believe you have been the victim of an online fraud, report it immediately at http://www.cyber.gov.au/report
You can also contact your local police station or the Police Assistance Line on 131444.
For further information about staying safe online, click on the following link: