By Cara Sulieman
DETECTIVES are investigating a spate of dodgy car deals after Scots trying to drive a bargain ended up being fleeced.
Seven people in the Lothian and Borders Police area alone have been stung after buying cars which turned out to be stolen.
Police said all the vehicles had been sold through motor trade magazines like Auto Trader with deals concluded in the Birmingham and Manchester areas heavily involved.
In the latest incident a buyer travelled down from Edinburgh to Manchester to look at an Audi A3 they saw advertised on the Auto Trader website.
They spent £7,000 on the vehicle – but police later seized it as it had been stolen from an address in Cheshire.
Detective Constable Steven Carroll from Lothian and Borders Stolen Vehicle Squad said that these steps could save motorists thousands of pounds.
He said: “These data checks cost about £40, but it is a small price to pay to make sure the car is genuine.
“It is a case of being careful and aware of what is going on. If the seller asks you to meet them in a car park then you should ask yourself why you aren’t meeting at their house.
“Check the Vehicle Identification Number, which should be under the bonnet. Make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and that it matches the registration documents.
“More often than not the number plate has been forged so it is important to check the VIN rather than the number plate.
“It is a case of making sure everything matches up.”
DC Carroll thinks that two or three gangs in the North of England are carrying out the scam.
Paying young boys £500 to go and steal a car, the groups then sell them on for thousands of pounds.
And although they tend to be in the same price range – around the £8,000 mark – it is a wide variety of vehicles that are being sold in the con.
Anything from family cars to work vans, the range is so varied because the gangs sell whatever they can get their hands on.
A police spokesman said: “Our concern is that buyers are purchasing these stolen vehicles in good faith, only to be left thousands of pounds out of pocket when the vehicle is seized by police.
“We are urging buyers to be careful when purchasing vehicles advertised in motor trade publications, and to make sure that they are entirely satisfied over the origin of the vehicle before they part with their cash.”