Scottish address used in second-hand car sales scam

  • Published
Luca Tremarco
Image caption,
Welsh welder Gianluca Tremarco is among the victims of the scam

Scammers have used an address in Caithness as part of a con to get people to spend thousands of pounds on fake second-hand cars sales.

Linda Bain, whose son lives in the house near Thurso said at least five people had visited looking for cars they believed they had bought.

Victims of the scam had travelled from London, Manchester and Ireland.

Gianluca Tremarco, a welder from Pembroke, spent last winter working on an oil rig to help save enough money for a car.

He told X-Ray: "I had been saving for about nine months.

"It was quite hard working away from family and friends, but I wanted to save and get myself a nice new car."

Image caption,
Mr Tremarco believed he was buying an Audi

After searching online for three weeks he found an Audi he liked and agreed a price of £5,700.

Mr Tremarco was sent documents from the seller, including a copy of a driving licence showing a person who claimed to be a Daniel Modric living at the address near Thurso.

The welder was conned into paying for the car using a fake website set up to look like eBay's official site.

Image caption,
The property near Thurso and its owners have nothing to do with the scam

He was told the car would be delivered to his home for free, but when it did not arrive he discovered that he had been scammed.

Mr Tremarco described the experience as "absolutely horrible".

Image caption,
The copy of a driving licence claiming to be the seller was sent to Mr Tremarco

The owners of the house near Thurso have nothing to do with the scam.

Mrs Bain told X-Ray that she knew of at least five people who had been to her son's house looking for cars that did not exist.

She said: "The last people were very understanding, but we are worried that may demand some money back from him."

Image caption,
Cyber crime expert Dr Pete Burnap said there are tell-tale signs that show a sales website is fake

X-Ray's investigation found that Leicestershire Police had written to Daniel Modric at the Scottish address in connection with a motoring offence.

The programme said there was nothing to show that the person pictured on the licence, or the name Daniel Modric, were real.

Dr Pete Burnap, a cyber crime expert at Cardiff University, said it was "relatively easy" to set up a fake sales website.

He said tell-tale signs that a site was not the real thing included the url showing multiple sub domains and the site's address not having the padlock sign to indicate that it was secure.

Image caption,
Linda Bain said she knew of at least five people who had travelled to Caithness because of the con

Police Scotland urged people to be "extremely careful" when buying a car or any other high-value item online.

A spokesman said: "The key advice is not to part with any money - either a deposit or the full sum - until you have had the chance to inspect the vehicle in person.

"If the 'seller' is demanding money be transferred in advance then ask the question to yourself why they would do so.

"When a deal seems too good to be true then it often is."

He said more advice was available on the website ActionFraud and Police Scotland's site.