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Surge in Private Number Plate Scams via Social Media Sparks Concern

Experts caution vehicle owners against engaging in the buying and selling of personalised registration plates on social media platforms due to the escalating risk of falling victim to scams.

Amid the skyrocketing prevalence of fraudulent cases, motorists run the peril of losing substantial sums, ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds, if they opt to list their UK private plates for sale on online buying and selling forums.

Plates4Less, an entity under VRM Swansea, has shed light on the top three scams that individuals should be vigilant of, along with a comprehensive guide to assist them in steering clear of potential rip-offs.

The scams can be delineated as follows:

  1. Bait and Vanish: Innocent buyers post wanted advertisements. Fraudsters swoop in with enticing offers, arranging transactions in private. However, the buyers end up empty-handed, having lost their money.
  2. Certificate Caper: Impersonating buyers manipulate sellers into sending them their ownership certificates before any payment is made, eventually reneging on the deal.
  3. False Ownership: Scammers list non-existent items for sale, often employing another individual’s entitlement copy as counterfeit proof of ownership.

Plates4Less, situated in Swansea, is a hub dedicated to facilitating the acquisition and sale of private number plates throughout the UK and Northern Ireland.

Antony Clark, Marketing Manager at Plates4Less, remarked, “Instances like these are increasingly cropping up, and it’s a concerning trend. Buyers need to exercise extreme caution by verifying the seller’s legal ownership of the registration mark before parting with their money.

“We recommend opting for in-person transactions whenever feasible. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” he cautioned.

The upswing in such incidents can be partly attributed to shifts in government protocols, wherein individuals possessing a valid certificate number can promptly allocate that registration mark to their vehicle. This alteration means that the applicant need not be directly linked to the registration mark, thus exposing those who inadvertently share their certificates online or fall victim to email breaches.

Victims of private number plate theft often remain oblivious until they attempt to use the registration mark, only to discover that it has been reassigned to another entity.

Plates4Less has issued the following protective guidelines for private plate proprietors:

  • Exercise Caution: Refrain from sharing images of certificates online.
  • Document Diligence: Store physical documentation securely and verify its validity every six months.
  • Email Oversight: Regularly monitor emails to prevent unauthorized access by scammers to online accounts with the DVLA, where plate details are stored.
  • Reliable Routes: Choose a reputable establishment to sell or value a number plate. Verify the business’s reviews on third-party websites.

Antony underscored, “For the well-being of both parties, we recommend engaging a trustworthy, fully accredited intermediary such as Plates4Less for a secure exchange of funds and goods. Our approach ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for buyers and sellers alike. Transparency and satisfaction are guaranteed, with all parties aware that they will receive the product they’ve paid for at a fair price.”

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