Car and van buying scams have risen by a staggering 74 per cent in the first half of 2023, compared to the same time period in 2022, based on new data.
Vehicles are now the most common type of online shopping scam reported by UK victims, in addition to accessories like car parts.
On average, victims are losing an average of £998, with younger people aged between 25 and 34 being stung most often.
The majority of car scams take place on Meta-owned platforms including Facebook and Instagram, with fraudsters easily creating fake listings.
WATCH NOW: Britons issued urgent scam warning
Drivers will usually see pictures of genuine vehicles to seem more convincing and are often made to leave a deposit to “secure” the vehicle.
This can often include the scammer using tactics to pressure the driver to make a decision quickly, such as saying that the payment must be made by a certain deadline.
According to Lloyds Banking Group, the potential car buyer is “tricked” into sending money via a bank transfer, given that they offer little protection if something with the transaction goes wrong.
Usually, as soon as the money has been sent, the seller will block the buyer and disappear, with fake details being used to ensure nothing can be traced back to them.
Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, warned drivers of the prevalence of the scam and how easy it is for buyers to get scammed.
She said: “Buying a car is among the biggest financial commitments many of us will make, so the sharp acceleration in reports of people being scammed when shopping for vehicles on social media is alarming.
“The vast majority of these scams start on Facebook, where it’s far too easy for criminals to set up fake profiles and advertise items that simply don’t exist.”
The Ford Fiesta is the most common target for scammers given how widespread they are across the country, with it being touted as one of the most reliable and cost-effective vehicles.
Drivers are being warned that these scams could become more common in the coming years given that Ford ceased production of the iconic vehicle.
Premium brands are also used to bait car buyers in with deals that seem too good to be true, with BMWs and Audis commonly appearing on social media trying to trick potential victims.
Liz Ziegler continued, saying: “It’s time social media companies were held accountable for their lax approach to protecting consumers, given the vast majority of fraud starts on their platforms.
“Buying directly from approved dealers is the best way to guarantee you’re paying for a genuine vehicle, and always use your debit or credit card for maximum safety.
“If you do want to buy something you’ve found through social media, only transfer funds once the car is in your possession.”
Surprisingly, motorbikes and classic cars also appear in scam adverts regularly, with vans being targeted to convert into campervans as the “van life” trend becomes more popular.