TONY HETHERINGTON: The Lavender Hill mob… of car scams
Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
D.B. writes: I received an email from Ryan Hirons, a motoring journalist with the website Carwow, offering a valuation of my car.
A day later, I received a valuation and an invoice for £99, and was told that if I do not pay then the debt will be passed to a collection agency.
Tony Hetherington replies: Do not pay a penny. This is a scam based on lies and false claims. If any debt collection firm touches it, tell me.
The first lie is that the email you received did not come from Ryan Hirons at Carwow. It may look authentic. It says: ‘Many used cars are becoming an appreciating asset – find out if the car on your drive is worth more than you paid for it.’ And there is a link which says simply ‘Value my car’.
Clicking on the link took you to a website called car-rate.co.uk. But Carwow denies any involvement in this. It told me: ‘We can confirm that the email did not come from Carwow’s employee Ryan Hirons, and that neither Carwow nor Ryan Hirons has a connection to car-rate.co.uk or to its owners.’ So, following in your footsteps, I clicked through to the car-rate website myself. ‘What’s your car worth right now?’ it asks.
All you need do is enter your car’s registration number. What it doesn’t say is that there is a £99 fee. To discover this, you need to know that you are not just looking at a fixed web page, but one that scrolls down to reveal the hidden small print.
I wanted to discuss this with car-rate, but it provides no phone number. I emailed the address on the website, but it bounced back with an automatic message saying ‘the recipient’s domain does not exist’. Not to worry though, as the car-rate website gives its address – 83 Lavender Hill in South West London.
Source of data and images: dailymail