March 18, 2016
Warning after cars 'that did not exist' were sold online in Burnham

Somerset Trading Standards Service is warning car buyers in the Burnham-On-Sea area to be extra cautious when buying vehicles online after a local scam was uncovered this week.

Several consumers have contacted Trading Standards after not receiving the vehicles they had paid for, which had been advertised online, supposedly by a company with an address in Burnham-On-Sea.

The trader claimed to be based in Burnham, and had all the hallmarks of a legitimate dealer, including an address and telephone number listed on their website.

The trader also appeared to be a limited company with two directors listed, both living in Somerset.

The vehicles were said to be in various parts of the country and were attractively priced, and the trader would deliver them to the consumers.

The cars described either didn’t exist or had been previously sold by legitimate traders.

The investigation revealed that the scam company was a front for what appears to be an organised criminal gang.

Purchasers paid for vehicles by bank transfer, but they did not arrive and all attempts to contact the trader by letter or telephone failed.

All contact was by e-mail and complaints garnered no response.

Devon and Somerset Trading Standards successfully traced where customer’s payments were going to reveal who opened the accounts and where.

Evidence was obtained that criminals had set up a number of bank accounts in the centre of London to receive the funds from their victims.

The evidence was then passed to The Metropolitan Police and Action Fraud Network.

Further investigation revealed that scams of this type are widespread and significant numbers of buyers throughout the country are being defrauded in this way.

Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, told "Scams of this kind are becoming increasingly common and increasingly sophisticated."

"I would urge potential car buyers to be careful when buying vehicles online."

"Many websites and adverts look very professional and it can be difficult to tell these apart from the genuine article."

"Often in these types of scam the fraudsters will claim to be local and consumers should try to see the car for themselves before purchase."

"By following a few simple rules including using a credit card which will give you better protection against shopping fraud, and using a trader who has signed up to a local member of the Buy With Confidence scheme, consumers can better protect themselves."

If you think you are the victim of car fraud, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or visit


Bookmark and Share

Search|Add to your Bookmarks|Send a mail from|Print this page|Back to previous page|Discuss this article

Burnham-On-Sea Seafront Webcam
Burnham-On-Sea Webcam
24-hour live pictures
See live images of the seafront and beach with Burnham's Webcam.Click here

Burnham-On-Sea What's On
What's On In Burnham-On-Sea
Things to see and do
Check the constantly updated calendar for what's happening. Click here

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter See us on YouTube