Safeguards when buying a 2nd hand car

I need help quickly so I don't get fleeced. I've found a very nice looking 2nd hand car but the circumstances seem a little odd. I think the vendor is abroad and he has left the car with someone who will deliver it (presumably allowing me to have a good look at the thing first). Please can someone let me know (as soon as poss really) what steps I can take to ensure:

1) Legal ownership

2) There are no outstanding fines/penalties etc.

And basically the exact forms I need to make sure everything is present and correct.

He emailed me this morning so I need to get back to him.

Thanks guys.


I would be surprised if anything nasty is happening from this guy. The 'con' is the thing and it is a numbers game, they move on and keep trying until they hook someone.

I couldn't read your full comment, so not sure about the 'invading my DNS.....' meant.

I told him yesterday I was no longer interested in the car but he emailed this morning pushing for delivery. As advised (thanks David) I told him the bank had refused to lend me the money and wished him luck finding a buyer. I received an "ok". Strange how both yesterday and today my computer is repeatedly sending up warning boxes that something is trying to invade my DNS...

Don't go for it!! (have just read it this morning & post this quickly, hoping you did not made any commitments. Thats the typical rubbish. Don't forget: You have the cash, he is expecting to collect... Ask for the reg # and check it up in the prefecture, or if they don't want to give any infos, ask your "village-sheriff" to do it for you.

Hi Valerie: It's a definite scam.I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole as we used to say up in Manchester...and elsewhere.

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I had an almost identical reply to an advert for a minidigger on leboncoin, seemed too good to be true so I didnt respond further,no one ever does that much for free when you havent even seen the thing !

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I found a couple of cars for sale whose description & price seemed to be a bargain. The wording looked suspiciously similar to your post! It was only when the email from the absent owners told me that the cam belt had just been changed that alarm bells really sounded - the car concerned has a chain, not a belt, & is not a service item! It also described the car as a 3 door. We are talking a Renault 4 here!

Don't touch it!

Hi Valerie.

I work in transport in France. Mainly on the commercial side. You can check if the vehical is stolen or not, and if there is any outstanding fines, by having the No plate checked at the Prefecture. But suffice it to say that if it's a "Ringer" of which there are many. It may not show up.

If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is !!!

Very fishy !!

Avoid like the plague. It smells very much like a scam.

This is a well documented scam,keep well away.


as others have said this is a con. The next part will be to pay in cash which can be done at a cash machine. They will even say they 'trust you' and will bring the car with them. Guess what happens next? Yep cash grabbed van vanishes and you are left without anything.

First thing to check is the Argus price for the car,(available online) and if it is a VERY good price you have been offered, then the con is guaranteed.

Basic rule if anything makes you feel uncomfortable with a deal, don't touch it!

Hi Valerie,

My French is far from perfect, but this is bad French and I would say 100% scam. I receive alot of scams related to my bed and breakfast and they are usually using poor English or poor French. His story is fake. I agree with the others - walk away from this one. Have you thought of using This is a site where individuals offer things for sale and it is very popular. Even there you should be wary and ask for all documents of course.

Good luck to you!

Hi Val,

I have sold 2 cars in the last 12 months and the wording you have on the email is exactly the same - people working abroad and wanting your details etc - It`s always a scam!

Buy from a garage and get a guarantee with a genuine carnet entretien & all the correct paperwork.

There is no such thing as a cheap car!

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Hi Valerie,

It's a scam, I was nearly caught up in the same situation last October (through Le Bon Coin, the price seems so (too) attractive). I asked for a copy of the "carte grise" to get the car insured, never got anything.

Look here:

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And another vote for a classic scam. A friend in the UK asked me to investigate something similar he got when he replied to an ad for an X-Trail that was just believably good value (below) for him and I found this:

If you Google a couple of odd-looking sentences I bet you will find the French version of this scamm.

Subject: RE: Nissan - X-Trail, Nissan, X-Trail,

Let me explain you PayPal's procedure for this type of transactions: you'll have to deposit the payment in a PayPal account managed by their Financial Department and they'll hold the money until you'll receive the car. You don't need a Paypal account because they will enroll you automatically in the Purchase Protection Program.
Another condition was to offer you a 5 days period for inspection, that means you can inspect it at your own place, take it to a mechanic to check it out, drive it, and then if you decide to keep it, you'll confirm to PayPal the sale and they will forward the payment to me. If, by any reason, you will not be satisfied with it (I can assure you that it is exactly as described), you can return it at my expense for a full refund of your money, no questions asked.
I think this is more than fair for both of us. You are not risking any pounds and you'll have the chance to check the car before the final decision. I am sure that you don't need 5 days to make a decision, but I had to accept Paypal's rule.
They are very secure and thanks to them we can still make good deals over the internet.
The payment is refundable and I can't access the money until you get the car, and is just a security measure, to make sure that the buyer is serious, and that I am not going to ship the car, and lose time and money.
I need to provide your details to Paypal so they can open a case for us. They already have my full info,so I need to forward only yours. Please reply with your full name and address, a contact phone # and a shipping address (if different) so I can ask PayPal to open a case! After that, they will contact you to explain all the details regarding the transaction.
I'm looking forward to hear from you.

Sgt. Cary Canon
62 Cyprus Support
Squadron Royal Engineers

It's a scam - very like the one I posted about recently - and another I saw which was extremely similar. No, they don't ask for money up front, but suddenly you find they want paying by Western Union or similar. Don't give your phone number - specially not a mobile, and don't go any further with it.

Good luck in finding an honest seller

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If there was a 'like' button I would press it.

They have not asked you for money, yet. As the link mentioned, in these scams the transport company is sometimes part of the scam (it may not exist at all).

Also, don't give any personal information. That can be just as valuable to them as getting cash from you.

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Hello Valerie,

I would go with everyone else and say it's a scam.

All the details they need from you are your name. Under NO circumstances agree to pay the 'absent' owner by Western Union' , or any other money transfer. A fairly good site for cars is but you need to be ultra cautious.

Good Luck.