Last week I found a car to purchase on eBay and contacted the “seller” through the site it was advertised on. The response was outside eBay and we corresponded.

I did some checks and everything seemed above board. I was advised the car was in Aberdeen and I could see it if I chose to go there. Given Aberdeen is far from Leicestershire, I declined.

The “seller” advised me that the way to buy the car was through a “holding company” and to “Google” it if I had any concerns. This I did and found a seemingly legitimate company with reviews online.

PT, Leicestershire

You sent £4,499 by bank transfer to the “holding company” with the commitment from the other party that the car would be delivered in two days’ time. No car arrived and, when you tried to call the seller, the number was disconnected.

All links to relevant sites had been disabled. You tried speaking to the company through its “live chat” function but again the connection was unavailable.

You spoke to your bank’s fraud team and it tried to have the money retrieved from the recipient account, which was with a different bank. By the time the information reached it, all the money had gone.

The other bank advised that it could not help any further, citing data protection rules.

You were informed by eBay that the site advertising the car had been taken over by a fraudster and it could not help either. Vehicles are not covered in the UK by eBay’s money-back guarantee.

You have reported this to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040; actionfraud.police.uk). It is unlikely the car shown in the online advertisement actually belonged to the alleged seller.

You say the background showed a dealership in Kent. The company whose account, it turned out, had been taken over is in Manchester. If it really were the seller’s car the owner might be able to be traced through the dealership records.

On the basis that you should leave no stone unturned I suggested that you call the dealership, or you ask the police to.

Steer clear where a bank transfer is asked for or other forms of payment that don’t match the advice on the eBay website.You should also be wary when there are obstacles, geographic or otherwise, to seeing the vehicle or whatever you are buying.

Sometimes a sob story will be used to deter a vehicle inspection or as a reason why the sale needs to go through quickly.

This car’s “price” was around £1,000 less than for other similar, legitimate vehicles for sale elsewhere, which should have been another warning sign.

You are now left to pay off a loan on a car you do not have. You say you are looking into the actions of the recipient bank.

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