Selling Your Car in South Africa: Watch Out for These 7 Potential Scams

Selling a car in South Africa is not for the faint-hearted.

Private car sales typically yield higher sale prices than selling via dealers. However, this can also make you vulnerable to a range of attempted scams. These may be designed to cheat you out of your vehicle and/or part or all of the purchase price.

If you’re considering a private vehicle sale, here are seven red flags to watch out for.

1. The information shake-down

If a potential buyer requests sensitive information at the negotiating stage, shut down the deal. The odds are the buyer isn’t a buyer at all.

Con artists use these kinds of transactions to steal your identity. Once they have your ID number, physical address, mobile phone number and bank account details, they can assume your identity and commit other white-collar crimes – which you may have to answer for.

2. ‘Expert’ input as an intimidatory tactic

Beware the buyer who insists on bringing an “expert” to check out the vehicle. This can be a tactic to intimidate you into lowering the asking price.

The buyer may act as a decoy while the “expert” loosens the spark plugs, removes the starter motor or pulls off another stunt to temporarily disable the car. A malfunctioning engine is all that’s required to force the sale at a rock-bottom price.

3. Dodgy escrow services

Escrow services are a great way to protect buyers and sellers. As the funds are deposited into a third-party account and only released to the seller once the car is delivered, escrow services remove the risk of fraud altogether.

Unfortunately, not all escrow services are legitimate. Scammers can easily set up what looks to be a reputable escrow provider.

Only use services offered by legitimate businesses like Standard Bank, PaySho or TradeSafe.

4. Fraudulent POPs

Don’t be fooled into handing over your car on the basis of a bank deposit slip or online proof of payment. These documents are easily forged.

Wait until the money is in your account and cleared by the bank. A follow-up call to the bank to confirm the transaction is a wise strategy.

5. Sight-unseen purchase ploy

When a buyer is prepared to pay more than the asking price without even seeing the car, abandon the deal. When an offer is too good to be true, it usually is.

This sort of arrangement suggests money laundering or other illegal acts. If the authorities can prove you sold your car for ill-gotten gains, they can confiscate the funds. You may even be considered an accomplice and criminally charged.

6. Test drive-turns-nasty scenario

Allowing a buyer to test drive your car is fraught with danger. There are too many incidents of hijackings or muggings.

If a buyer insists on taking the car for a spin, make sure you take a burly back-up or two along for the ride.

7. Avoid the bit-part repayment plan

Never ever agree to a repayment plan, especially when the buyer wants to take the car on the basis of a down-payment or deposit.

The likelihood of seeing that vehicle again is nil. That applies even if you do have the buyer’s details, which probably belong to someone else altogether.

What to do if you’ve been scammed while selling a vehicle

If you have been scammed while selling your car, report the incident to the SAPS immediately. The more information the police have about the con artist and his or her fraud, the more likely they are to make an arrest.

If the scam involved a bank or any other financial provider, alert the institutions right away. They can issue a warning to clients and tighten up on security protocols.

Lastly, the general public deserves to be in the loop. Post details of the scammer’s modus operandi on social media and neighbourhood community groups to prevent someone else from suffering the same fate as you.

An alternative to selling a car: get a loan from Pawn My Car

Rather than selling your car in a rush – and running the risk of being scammed – consider a vehicle-backed loan from Pawn My Car.

With Pawn My Car, you can use a car, bakkie, truck or boat that’s in your name to secure a loan quickly and easily, with no delays or laborious paperwork. For more information, contact us by phone or WhatsApp on 0861 112 866, or simply complete and submit our online application form.

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Fixed rates range from 36% to 60% APR and payment options range from minimum 3 to maximum 24 months. Apart from the initiation and monthly fees shown below, the only additional fee is credit life insurance if the borrower does not have this already.


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Client borrows R10,000 for 90 days.

Repayment Period
Monthly Repayment
Total Cost of Loan
Monthly Fee
(Interest + Service Charge)
Loan Amount


Repayment Period

3 months

Monthly Repayment


Total Cost of Loan


Initiation Fee


Monthly Fee (Interest + Service Charge)




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