Safely Buy and Sell Classic Cars – Seller’s Tips

Classic Trader serves as an international marketplace as a meeting place for sellers of classic cars and motorbikes and their potential buyers. Worldwide. To ensure that the sale of a classic car does not turn into a flop, we have compiled some tips on the subject of “Selling classic cars safely”.

We have compiled some common types of scams for you, firstly to inform you of the “traps” that may be waiting for you; and secondly to prepare you well enough to avoid them and the scammers behind them.

Selling a classic car safely

There are a variety of scams that would-be buyers can use to try to rip you off. We present the most common types of scams below so that you are protected against them.

1. the vehicle is supposedly collected by a third party

You have advertised a vehicle and are contacted by an interested potential buyer. He or she declares that they are interested in buying the car, but that they cannot collect it themselves and would send a haulage company, i.e. a “third party”, to do so. To immediately dispel any scepticism and doubts on your side, the alleged buyer offers to send a payment confirmation from an online payment system in advance, which convinces most sellers for the time being.

On the handover date, the vehicle is collected as agreed by the commissioned third party, the freight forwarder, and a corresponding confirmation is usually handed over. As part of the fraud scam, the allegedly interested buyer reveals himself as a fraudster at this point. He claims that the vehicle never arrived, freezes the money transfer in the online payment system and passes the buck to you.

Here, the buyer protection of online payment systems, which is actually sensible in principle, is undermined by the fraudsters. Since the seller cannot clearly prove that the buyer has received the car on the basis of the shipping company’s confirmation, the buyer is usually awarded the money after a few weeks. And your vehicle is gone for the time being. If a supposed buyer suggests this procedure, actively raise the issue.

Alternative: The double scam

In a variation of this scam, a supposed buyer has a third party represent him or her at a personal meeting with you, the seller, to sign the purchase contract or hand over the vehicle. To prove that everything is going correctly, a power of attorney to sign the contract by proxy (subsequently proclaimed to be forged) and copies of the alleged buyer’s identity papers are presented. The identity papers usually belong to a third party from whom they were previously stolen for exactly this use. In addition, a forged receipt of the transfer of the purchase price is presented by e-mail. Following this action, the vehicle is resold to another, unsuspecting buyer. Here, only the “double fraud” takes place. The subsequent buyer cannot acquire ownership of the fraudulently sold vehicle and, in case of doubt, will have to return it to the original owner. In the meantime, the scammer has enriched himself with the sales sum from the resale.

With this scam, both you as the original seller are cheated out of your money from the sale, as well as the subsequent buyer who, despite paying, has to hand the vehicle back and, in the worst case, is not compensated. Therefore:

  • – Always insist on a personal handover of the vehicle with the signing of a written contract of sale and cash payment. If your counterpart does not agree to this, it may be a reason for you to become sceptical and break off the contact.
  • – A confirmation of a transfer is not the same as an actual payment and can easily be faked! Cash payment is better!

2. scammers and false repair costs

You have successfully sold your car, everything went smoothly and you are already thinking about what to do with the proceeds of the sale… A few days after the sale, a supposed friend of the buyer calls you. There is allegedly a problem: Shortly after the purchase, a defect is said to have occurred and you, as the seller, are now supposed to bear some or all of the repair costs, as it is your lack of care that is supposedly responsible for this. The actual buyer does not contact you himself because he is not available, e.g. he is travelling abroad. And there, usually abroad, you are supposed to transfer a certain sum to an account from which the repair will be paid.

Attention: Fraudsters at work

This is a fraud method in which perpetrators closely observe sales transactions on the Internet and contact the seller after a vehicle sale.
Buyers themselves usually know nothing about this procedure, let alone about the alleged damage.
Do not be tempted by a possibly guilty conscience. Ask carefully and always ask to speak to the buyer himself, possibly at a later date!

3. the fictitious case of damage

In response to a vehicle advertisement, you are contacted by a potential buyer who would like to purchase your car. What keeps him away are the high insurance costs. He or she asks how much you pay for insurance and then where you are insured, as he or she wants to compare costs between providers. He or she may ask you for your car registration number and other vehicle data.

The supposedly interested buyer party uses this data to file a fictitious claim with your insurance company in the name of a non-existent garage. However, this vehicle damage was never repaired at your garage. If your insurance company is one with no-claims bonus classes, this insurance fraud could lead to a higher insurance premium for you. Therefore:

  • – Always obscure the number plates before taking and uploading vehicle pictures to the internet.
  • – Do not give out any information, either verbally or in writing, about your vehicle insurance or your registration number.

4. no contract conclusion by e-mail

You have advertised your car and a prospective buyer contacts you: he or she wants to inspect the vehicle and asks you to confirm an appointment to view the vehicle. You are asked to confirm your address by e-mail or to send an “Ok”. In some cases, only a test e-mail is sent with a request for confirmation.

However, mails of this kind are not requests for a confirmation of an appointment, but for a confirmation of the purchase contract – usually at a much lower price than the one you stated in the advertisement. From this point on, the scammer insists on contract fulfilment, i.e. the sale of the vehicle at the allegedly agreed price.

If you refuse to sell the vehicle or have sold it to someone else in the meantime, the scammer threatens to take legal action and claim damages for breach of contract/non-performance. With your confirmation via e-mail, he or she wants to have proof of a valid purchase contract. In court, the fraudster can even get away with this in some cases.

5. Foreign Notary Fees

You are contacted by a prospective buyer from abroad. He wants to buy the vehicle you have advertised. You sign a contract of sale and the buyer wants to send an expert to hand over the vehicle, who will take it away in exchange for cash if everything is in order.

Now the scam: According to a competition law, the purchase contract to be sent must be notarised. You, the seller, supposedly have to pay for the notary’s fees. However, so that this is not to your detriment and the sale is completed, the agreed purchase price is simply increased by the notarisation costs by the buyer in your favour. In this way, you will not incur any costs. Shortly before the transfer date, however, you receive a notary’s invoice and are supposed to transfer the fee in advance. Assuming that you will be reimbursed later by the higher sales price, many sellers transfer the comparatively small fee. Afterwards, however, neither the supposed prospective buyer nor the surveyor get in touch and the advance payment is lost!

6. Do not send digital documents

In today’s digital context, your data is you and your data is you: Therefore, be extremely careful with confidential documents such as identification and vehicle papers! These allow anyone who has them in digital form to assume your identity and act in your name. In most cases, this does not even require manipulation of these documents or anything similar. In the worst case, a breach of law, e.g. fraud, can be committed under your name with the digital versions of these documents, which can result in very unpleasant consequences such as criminal prosecution and the like.

Therefore, caution is advised: Never scan, copy and send vehicle or identity documents by e-mail to prospective vehicle buyers!

7. The brokerage fee

It may happen that you receive an SMS or e-mail after you have advertised a car: You are asked to contact a marketing company. This company pretends to act as an intermediary for potential buyers and also offers you this service for a commission. This is usually between 59 and 119 euros, without guarantee. You may pay – the price is not too high – if this means that the car is sold quickly and at the desired price. However, experience teaches that it is likely that no mediation will take place. This is an extremely dubious scam used by outright letter-box and bogus companies.

8. Overdrawn cheque

This scam is characterised by prospective buyers from abroad making contact and usually accepting the purchase price immediately. Allegedly by mistake, a much higher cheque is issued to the seller than the agreed purchase price. The difference is then supposed to be either handed over in cash or transferred by cash transfer. The catch: after a few days, the cheque that was first credited bounces and, in the worst case, both the car and the difference paid are gone.

In no case: cash transfer

Money transfers by means of cash transfer via Western Union, MoneyGram or the like are unfortunately more often instrumentalized to pull off a false trust service or the classic “cheque fraud”. Such cash transfer services are intended for transfer transactions between known persons, on a basis of trust. They are not suitable for online car trade payments.

9. Confidence trick

Recently, sellers tell us that they are contacted by prospective buyers who offer them, for example, works of art in exchange for a vehicle. Typical for online trick scams is the rather vague reference to the advertisement and the effort to gain trust as well as the long-winded explanation of why and how the “return transaction” is supposed to come about. Often pitiful stories are constructed and distress situations are described in detail. Genuine prospective buyers will probably not offer you money or valuables in the first step, even before they have obtained information about the vehicles!

10. Fake or fraud e-mails

With so-called “phishing” e-mails, fraudsters try to obtain your log-in data. The e-mails, which are sent from fake URLs such as or, ask you to click on a link that leads to a fake login page. These pages do not run under our URL, but under other, obscure addresses. Do not give out your password there under any circumstances! If in doubt, please contact us at [email protected].

Safely selling classic cars – Conclusion

Be alert if you are contacted by email, SMS or other channels and asked to click a link or provide personal details! Especially in recent times, fraudsters have tried to use this for phishing. If in doubt, contact us via our website or your account manager!

Author: Classic Trader

Die Classic Trader Redaktion besteht aus Oldtimer-Enthusiasten, die Euch mit spannenden Geschichten versorgen. Kaufberatungen, unsere Traum Klassiker, Händlerportraits und Erfahrungsberichte von Messen, Rallyes und Events. #drivenbydesire

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