Ottawa Woman Exposes Growing Vehicle History Report Scam

Ellen Thompson says the websites she was directed to looked professional and legitimate, but they were just seeking to obtain her credit card information.

In a concerning revelation, an Ottawa woman has come forward with a cautionary tale for those looking to sell their vehicles. Ellen Thompson’s experience highlights a growing scam where potential buyers lure sellers into purchasing vehicle history reports from fraudulent websites, posing a risk of credit card and identity theft.

According to CBC News, Thompson, who recently advertised her son’s 2011 Honda CR-Z on AutoTrader, was overwhelmed by the response. “The first day I was inundated with interested people and I thought ‘Oh, this is crazy,'” she recounted. Despite her preparedness with a vehicle history report, a key document in car sales detailing ownership and repair history, she noticed a disturbing pattern among the inquiries.

Thompson detailed how nine out of ten responses insisted on a vehicle history report from a specific, non-Carfax website. “They would say, ‘That’s not detailed enough. Carfax isn’t the one I depend on, can you please go to this website and purchase the one that I trust?'” she explained. These websites, offering reports for less than Carfax, immediately requested credit card details.

The realization of the scam dawned on Thompson when the tone of the conversation changed upon her refusal. “That’s when I realized this has got to be a scam,” she said, acknowledging the pushiness of the so-called buyers.

Jeff Horncastle, acting client and communications officer for the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, confirmed the fraudulent nature of these websites to CBC News. “These websites are very convincing so it’s important to do your research,” he advised, warning of the risk of identity fraud. Horncastle emphasized that even a simple Google search might not be reliable due to fraudsters’ use of search engine optimization.

The scam, while not new, is part of a broader increase in vendor fraud schemes in Canada. AutoTrader, aware of this scam, has advised its users to utilize its partnership with Carfax for obtaining vehicle history reports.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and AutoTrader caution sellers to be vigilant, urging them to stick to known, reputable sources for vehicle history reports and to be wary of overly insistent buyers. This case serves as a stark reminder of the evolving tactics of online scammers and the importance of staying informed and cautious in digital transactions.

For more details and advice on how to protect yourself from such scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website.