A seasoned car expert has sounded an alarm for drivers, cautioning them against falling prey to social media scams that have resulted in victims losing substantial sums of money through private number plate fraud.
Jon Kirkbright, the Sales Director at Platehunter, possesses over 11 years of comprehensive experience in the motor industry, specialising in the buying and selling of registration plates. In light of recent incidents, he has taken it upon himself to raise awareness among drivers and those engaged in purchasing or selling private registration plates.
In the past few months, Jon has observed a concerning trend that prompted him to issue a stern warning. He has been receiving numerous reports detailing a scheme involving scammers creating social media accounts and falsely claiming to represent his company. These fraudsters are duping individuals into paying thousands for number plates they are not authorised to sell in the first place.
Jon is deeply troubled by the fact that people are falling victim to these deceitful tactics, and he’s concerned about the potential damage to his business and reputation.
He stated, “It’s disheartening to realise that some individuals are being deceived into parting with their hard-earned money by individuals who are impersonating my company.”
“Platforms like Facebook allow individuals to declare that they work for any company without the company being notified or required to validate these claims, which is particularly disconcerting,” Jon added.
He is committed to thwarting such scams and is sharing his invaluable insights on identifying these fraudulent schemes before succumbing to them. Here are the primary private number plate scams and their modus operandi:
- Certificate Number Exposure: Sharing your certificate number online can result in the immediate theft of your private registration plate. An unwitting seller might post an image of their certificate, only to discover that it has already been stolen and assigned to another vehicle before a legitimate transaction takes place.
- False Buyer Tactics: Some fraudsters may pose as genuine buyers and request the seller to provide a photo of the certificate as proof of ownership. Armed with the certificate number, the scammer can pilfer the plate. Additionally, they may exploit the certificate image to swindle other potential buyers.
- Stolen Certificates: Scammers might pilfer certificates from friends or family without their knowledge. In such cases, the legitimate owners of the registration plate may remain oblivious to the crime until they attempt to utilise or sell the plate, only to discover it’s already linked to another vehicle. In such cases, the original owner can report the issue to the DVLA, resulting in the reissuing of the plate.
Jon stated unequivocally, “At Platehunter, we never finalise sales based on social media conversations. Our interactions involve phone calls, emails, and document submissions. We rigorously verify certificate numbers and ensure that the buyer receives the plate and the seller receives payment.”
“Our transactions never take place on social media. We manage the process meticulously, safeguarding both buyers and sellers. In cases of fraud, we ensure refunds are provided. That’s the assurance of purchasing through a trusted dealer—we function as a safeguard, ensuring no one falls victim. We stand accountable for any issues that may arise.”
Jon also shared advice for safe online purchases:
- Trust Verification: Refrain from sending money until you’re confident about the legitimacy of the seller. This principle applies universally to online transactions, including private number plate purchases.
- Avoid Certificate Exposure: Keep your private number plate certificate number private. Scammers primarily exploit this number for their activities. Share it only with trustworthy individuals or reputable companies.
- Thorough Research: Conduct thorough research on both the product and the seller before finalising any deal. Ensure the purchase price is reasonable and the seller is reputable.
- Review Analysis: When dealing with individuals claiming to represent companies, reviews can be a dependable source of verification. Reading reviews might provide insight into the authenticity of the individual’s claim.
- Cross-Platform Verification: If you’re communicating with someone on one social media platform, cross-reference their affiliation by visiting the official website of the claimed company. Search for the company on other social media platforms or even give them a call to verify the person’s status as an employee.
As drivers navigate the complexities of private number plate transactions, Jon Kirkbright’s vigilant guidance serves as a valuable resource, helping potential victims avoid scams and fraudulent schemes.