It’s a sad fact, but car thefts are much more common than you think. According to data from Carsurance, a vehicle has been stolen in the US every 43.8 seconds. This statistic is certainly worrying, and while you may not regularly worry about your car being stolen, it certainly is possible. Car thieves are also getting smarter and the police are now warning about a new trick they are using to get their hands on your keys. Read on to find out how the new scam works and why the police are urging you to stay vigilant.
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Facebook is not only a social networking site, it has also become a way for individuals to sell their wares. There is a section of the site called Facebook Marketplace that allows users to post ads just like you would on Craigslist or eBay. You’ll find a wide variety of items on Marketplace, including furniture, gadgets, and various things that people want to get rid of.
When you see an item you’re interested in, the process is pretty simple: you use the messaging feature to ask the seller if the item is still available. If the seller confirms it’s still for sale, you can agree on a price and a meeting place. This is where things can get tricky.
Facebook recommends that you arrange your meeting in a public place or near a police station. You should definitely follow this advice, especially if you are trying to sell something of value, such as your car.
Selling a car is a big undertaking, which is why some choose to do it through Facebook Marketplace, where you don’t need a third party and both communication and payment are quick and easy. But police in Vancouver, Washington have warned of a new scam targeting these unsuspecting sellers.
According to a press release dated August 24, between August 1 and August 19, the Vancouver Police Department received four reports of car thefts linked to sales on Facebook Marketplace. The new scam they are using is cunning which is why you want to take extra measures to protect yourself.
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Police outlined the scam, in which the thief uses a female Facebook profile to contact someone who is selling his vehicle on Facebook Marketplace. Police note that thieves are mainly targeting those selling “higher, newer vehicles.” Through the female Facebook profile, the scammer confirms a time to meet the seller in a public parking lot, but before the set time, she informs the seller that her husband will come and see the vehicle instead.
Once the pair meet, the thief asks for a test drive – and this is where salespeople can make a crucial mistake. The salesperson will hand over the keys, and before he or she can get into the car, the thief will “get in and drive away,” according to the press release.
Vancouver Police are currently investigating the local thefts, as well as a current suspect. They also ask anyone selling a vehicle online to take extra care and implement certain safety strategies.
The police ask that you do not go to these fairs alone and never voluntarily hand over your keys or allow a buyer to test drive the vehicle themselves. If you feel uncomfortable during the meeting, cancel the sale and leave. Even before that, it’s probably best not to let the sale go through if something isn’t right, especially if the buyer changes meeting place or person at the last minute.
Aside from meeting in a public place, the police recommend choosing a location with video surveillance or looking for a nearby location Safe Exchange Zone. Also known as SafeTrade Stations, these stations are located at police stations in the US and are specially designed for e-commerce transactions. Designated transition zones are often located in the hall of the department or areas in the parking lot with 24-hour security.