South Africans can attest that our criminals seem to be among the most creative in the world. A new method of stealing cars has the mouths of many hanging open in shock. The Insurance Crime Bureau (ICB) has issued a vehicle recall scam alert as a result of the new method, which has been shared by Dialdirect Insurance.
“Criminals execute a recall scam by contacting unsuspecting vehicle owners and posing as officials representing a car manufacturer – convincing the owners that their vehicle is part of a batch being recalled due to serious malfunctions,” said Maanda Tshifularo, head of Dialdirect Insurance, to BusinessTech. “With the promise of a repaired or replacement vehicle, many people buy into this scam and end up losing tens, or even hundreds of thousands of rand.”
According to the ICB, the initial contact is made telephonically – the criminal poses as an official and informs the victim that their vehicle has been recalled.
“This is often followed up with a spoof e-mail, with criminals going to great lengths to make their communication seem official,” the ICB said. “They convince vehicle owners that they shouldn’t drive their vehicle under any circumstances and make arrangements to collect it – most often using a tow truck.”
A few days later, when the owner phones the dealership to check on their vehicle, they discover that their vehicle has been stolen instead of recalled. It is suspected that the scam is run by either a single or multiple syndicates.
Dialdirect and the ICB advise drivers to do the following to prevent becoming a victim:
– Limit the amount of personal information you share on social media and telephonically, as criminals use this to build a detailed profile on their victim.
– Remember to be vigilant and maintain a healthy sense of scepticism when talking to strangers. If the stranger claims to be a representative of a car dealership, contact the dealership immediately to verify that they are an employee.
– Check with the manufacturer and/or dealership directly to verify that the recall is real. Never trust contact details provided by the person who called you.
– Report any suspicious calls to the authorities, the manufacturer and/or the dealership.