Scams: Truck export

Sadly, the crooks and thieves of this world continue to ply their trade and one of their more recent activities involves what is known as the truck export scam.

How it works

If you are selling a truck, you’ll typically start receiving a number of emails and possibly even phone calls from an enthusiastic agent or intermediary claiming to be acting for a third party.

They are often based overseas; they’ll typically be extremely friendly and apparently keen to give you a good price in return for a quick deal. They will tell you that they are arranging for a cheque or western union payment to be sent to you from the final buyer, stating that it will include shipping and possibly local truck fleet insurance costs.

Once you have their cheque or other apparent form of payment, then your intermediary will pressurise you to pay the shipping and insurance amount quickly to a third party shipping agent so that the deal can be concluded and your truck shipped.

What you will find

You will probably be asked to transfer the shipping costs through an irrevocable payment method such as a bank transfer, meaning that the money will leave your account immediately and not be reclaimable.

Shortly after you’ve done so, your bank will tell you that the purchase cheque you deposited with them for the total overall payment has bounced or is otherwise invalid. Note in particular that Western Union payments are typically not guaranteed.

You will be out of pocket to the tune of some very substantial shipping fees.

Needless to say, your new friend will have disappeared and you will never hear from them again.

How to spot fraudulent enquiries and offers

The chances are you are probably very keen to make the sale and these thieves will be counting on that.

So, look out for:

  • apparent quick sales for an amount of money that is towards the top end of your realistic expectations;
  • emails that are poorly and ungrammatically put together – perhaps looking as though they have been designed for mass circulation with only your vehicle details having been cut and pasted in. Note though that sometimes these offers may in fact be very well written and constructed;
  • supposed purchase payments that are being sent through mechanisms that are relatively easily faked or capable of being subsequently withdrawn. Examples include standard cheques, Western Union payments and some types of bank transfer;
  • requests to send money with respect to shipping charges and associated fees to a third party, intermediary or anyone else,.

Top tips

Even if you think you have a genuine sale, you should:

  • never ship your truck or pay money to anyone until such time as your bank has confirmed that they hold cleared funds in your account and that the funds concerned are irrevocable (i.e. they cannot be withdrawn under any circumstances);
  • never allow a buyer or any intermediary apparently acting on their behalf, to tell you that you must send sums of money anywhere for any purpose. Keep control of things such as shipping yourself;
  • avoid under any circumstances, any attempt on the part of the buyer or people claiming to be their intermediaries, to become your friend. This is a business transaction and you should conduct it accordingly.

Try to keep in mind also that the above techniques can be applied to the purchase of just about anything and not only trucks for heavy goods vehicles.