What does it look like?

We've written this story to show you how scammers trick people. It describes common tactics we know scammers use, based on insights from our fraud and scams team.

The online sale scam

Peter was looking for a new caravan – he'd searched all over the internet to find the perfect deal. He found one for a great price, and messaged the seller immediately, asking to see it.

The seller asked where Peter lived, and then explained that they lived in Glasgow. This was miles away from Peter's home in London, and Peter realised there was no way he could travel that far to see the caravan before buying it.

The seller shared pictures of the caravan and said they'd be willing to ship it to Peter if he paid half the money in advance. Then once the caravan arrived, he could check everything over and send the other half if he was happy.

It seemed like a win-win situation, so Peter sent the money, and waited for an update. A few days later, the seller contacted him to say that the shipping cost was far higher than expected. They asked for some extra money to help cover the cost. He didn’t want to lose the caravan, so he sent the extra money.

A week passed and Peter hadn't heard anything else from the seller, so he tried to contact them but got no reply… and the caravan never showed up.

What's the scam?

There never was a caravan. The seller made it up, along with a reason Peter wouldn't be able to see it before he bought it. They tricked Peter into sending a large sum of money, and then disappeared.