With a significant surge in deceptive practices targeting motorists seeking to buy or sell private plates on social media platforms, Plates4Less has issued a cautionary message advising UK motorists to stay vigilant and take proactive steps to avoid falling victim to scams.
Plates4Less (part of VRM Swansea) has unveiled an in-depth guide aimed at empowering motorists with knowledge to shield themselves from the increasing array of scams.
The company has brought to light the three most prevalent fraudulent tactics currently preying on individuals navigating the private plate market:
- An eager buyer posts a wanted advertisement for a specific registration plate. A crafty scammer then swiftly responds with a tempting offer, prompting a transaction to be conducted in private. Regrettably, the buyer ends up empty-handed and short-changed, as the promised plate never materialises.
- Fraudsters posing as bona fide buyers manipulate sellers into providing their certificate of ownership upfront, prior to money exchanging hands. Armed with the certificate, the scammer vanishes into thin air, leaving the unsuspecting seller with neither money, nor a completed sale.
- Con artists list registration plates that they have no legitimate ownership over, often using fraudulent copies of another person’s entitlement as supposed proof of ownership and ensnaring unwary buyers in a fabricated transaction.
Plates4Less, headquartered in Swansea, has established itself as a hub for facilitating the purchase and sale of private number plates across the UK and Northern Ireland.
Antony Clark, the Marketing Manager at Plates4Less, expressed deep concern over the escalating prevalence of such scams: “We are hearing about cases similar to these all the time and they seem to be on the rise. Buyers must triple check that the seller is the legal owner of the registration mark before they part with any money.
“We would advise that they try to conduct the sale in person, if possible. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The rise in fraudulent cases can be attributed, in part, to changes in government processes, allowing individuals with a valid certificate number to swiftly assign a registration mark to their vehicle.
This change inadvertently exposes innocent private plate owners to potential scams, with scammers exploiting certificate images or hacked email accounts for their deceitful behaviours.
Many victims of private number plate theft only realise the crime when they attempt to use their registration mark, finding it already assigned elsewhere.
To mitigate these risks, Plates4Less has provided a set of practical measures for private plate owners:
- Never share certificate images online.
- Keep physical documentation in a safe place and check on it every six months (including its validity).
- Monitor emails to ensure any online accounts with the DVLA, where the plate details are stored, have not been hacked by scammers.
- Use a reputable business to sell a number plate or have it valued. Be sure to check their reviews on a third-party website.
Antony added: “For the safety of both parties, we recommend using a trusted, and fully registered intermediary like Plates4Less, for a secure transfer of funds and goods. We offer a safe and enjoyable experience for buyers and sellers alike. Everyone knows where they stand and they know they are going to get what they are paying for at the right price.”