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Warning: MSN Cars Vehicle Purchase Protection Program FRAUD - MSN Cars Third Party Program - MSN Autos Buyer Protection - MSN Autos Used Cars Buying Program - MSN Autos Protection Service - MSN Autos Escrow Service - MSN Money Third Party Program - attempted FRAUD
Dear internet users,
Criminals are mounting a concerted attempt to defraud users of MSN Cars, MSN Autos, and Auto Trader at present, and are also using other famous internet company brand names (e.g. Yahoo!, AOL, eBay, Craig's List, Google Wallet) in order to try and facilitate these frauds.
You have quite possibly ended up on this page as a result of a web search. In which case, I urge you to please read the below carefully BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE as it will save you a lot of money - and stop crooks getting rich for doing nothing apart from hanging about in a cybercafe somewhere all day stealing money.
These people are advertising mostly premium cars at very cheap prices on Auto Trader whose listings also appear within MSN Cars (and other used car listings websites both in the UK, US, and other countries) - and when contacted via e-mail, claim that MSN Cars (MSN's UK car website) or MSN Autos (MSN's US car website) offers an intermediary scheme called the 'MSN Autos Vehicle Purchase Protection Program' or 'MSN Autos Third Party Program' or 'MSN Autos Protection Service' or 'MSN Autos Buyer Protection' or other variations thereof, including brand names of other companies. They will then tell you to send money to fake escrow services operating under these guises. Your money will then vanish, never to be seen again.
The crooks frequently change the name of the 'scheme' in order so that potential victims will find it harder to find this page on the web - so just because that particular 'scheme' isn't mentioned here does not mean it's OK.
These advertisers will exhibit a curious reluctance to talk to you on the telephone (though they may do so), but will certainly and most definitely have no interest whatsoever in meeting you face-to-face - and will produce every excuse under the sun for why they cannot do this. They may pretend to be willing to meet you, but only if you can get to somewhere like Switzerland within three days. If you try and take them up on this offer though they will make up some sob story about their father dying or some other bare-faced lie.
They will typically spin some tedious yarn about splitting up with their wives, travelling a lot in their job as a cargo pilot, having some deadly disease, family members dying, being heavily pregnant, setting up a new business in a hurry, getting divorced, or some other reason to justify selling their vehicle at a steep discount to prevailing market value and to never wanting to meet in person. They will sometimes pretend to be an 'innocent female' and to thus pretend they don't know a car's true value, and so on. They will - for some reason - often claim to live in places like Zermatt, Cadiz, Preston or relatively obscure parts of the USA.
They may also pretend to be war heroes, about to be posted to Afghanistan and wanting to sell their cars quickly before they get posted. They are not heroes: they are crooks and they spread misery.
They will wax lyrical with you about the wonderful state of the car: no scratches, never having been smoked in and so on. The car is indeed wonderful - so wonderful that it does not even exist. They may often be able to supply a VIN number and/or registration number and/or Carfax report that matches a genuine car - but that proves nothing. They will make it appear that they are doing you a favour selling you a car for a rock-bottom price. They are far from doing you a favour - they are trying to steal all of your money.
Microsoft and MSN Cars must strenuously assert the following:
THE "MSN Cars Vehicle Purchase Protection Program" AND SIMILAR SYSTEMS DO NOT EXIST. THIS IS NOTHING TO DO WITH MSN CARS, MSN Autos OR AUTO TRADER. IT IS AN ATTEMPT TO DEFRAUD, PLAIN AND SIMPLE. YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO DELETE THE E-MAIL AND NOT TO ENTER INTO ANY COMMUNCIATION WITH THE SENDER WHATSOEVER.
DO NOT SEND THEM ANY MONEY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - YOU WILL NEVER SEE IT AGAIN, NOR WILL A CAR EVER ARRIVE.
MSN Cars and Microsoft are closely engaged with our internet security colleagues and Auto Trader to takefurtheraction on this matter. MSN Cars and Microsoft take the welfare of our users extremely seriously and we hate the idea that our name is being abused in this way - and we definitely do not want anyone to be defrauded because of it.
There is no such thing as a free lunch
The used car market for almost all cars is extremely liquid and a cursory glance at used car listings or priceguides like Parkers will immediately reveal what that market price is.
Any car offered for significantly less than this is likely to have major issues:
- The car may be stolen.
- It may have outstanding payments due on it.
- It may have major crash damage.
- 'The car' may exist but they certainly don't own it and they certainly aren't going to sell it to you (as in this, most common, example) - it is a pure invitation for you to send a fraudster money and for them to vanish without trace.
The world might be a better place if it was full of people who legitimately sold things to complete strangers for far less than the market has decided they are worth, out of the goodness of their heart. But that is not our world. As ever on the internet as in life please take great care in all financial dealings with people you don't know. If it smells wrong, it almost certainly is. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Even if the car seems appropriately priced you should NEVER send money to people you haven't even talked to, to buy a car you have never even seen, supposedly located in another country or a distant partof your own country. There is an army of people out there who will happily take your money and disappear into the electronic ether - please do not keep them in work.
ALL offers in classified adverts to ship cars to you without you seeing them first are ALWAYS fraudulent! No exceptions.
ALL car 'deals' that involve you sending money by Western Union or Moneygram (even to yourself - these are a 'verified funds fraud' and this money will also be stolen) are ALWAYS fraudulent! No exceptions.
DO NOT EVEN *THINK* OF SENDING THEM YOUR MONEY! YOU WILL LOSE IT ALL.
If you have been in contact with these criminals, it would be useful to our investigation to forward all their e-mails etc. with any additional information to:
While MSN Cars and Microsoft regret that it cannot usually enter into any correspondence with those that get in touch with us at this address, we do have the following advice for those that have become a victim of this scam:
Advice for those who have become a victim of this scam
Our advice for UK users who have been scammed is to contact the National Fraud Authority.
It has set up a phone number (0300 123 2040) as a single point of contact for fraud victims. They have also launched a website (http://www.actionfraud.org.uk/), which should be your first port of call.
Users who reside in the United States should contact the IC3 internet crime website (http://www.ic3.gov/) run by the FBI and other organisations. You can file a complaint there and find out other information about avoiding being a victim of internet fraud.
Residents of other countries should contact their local and/or national police forces.
Craig's List: many fraudsters target users of this popular listings site. Craig's List hosts a very useful anti-fraud page here.
The UK Office of Fair Trading also has a "scambusting" scheme set up to send scam e-mails and websites to for investigation. More details can be seen here: http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty/
Get Safe Online offers advice on safely using the internet, including online transactions
The UK Metropolitan Police also operates a Fraud Alert website which offers updated news on online scams, and ways to report online fraud. It has a special page especially devoted to vehicle-related online fraud.
Managing Editor, MSN Cars
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