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Complaints from conned car buyers have caused Havering Council to issue a warning about roadside dealings.

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Residents who reply to adverts and are directed by the seller to a road or car park to purchase a vehicle have alerted the council to the problem - which seems to be on the increase.

After purchase, the buyer realises the vehicle has been “clocked” and the service history is false or the vehicle is faulty or has previously been written off.

The seller is often untraceable, leaving the buyer with no way of getting their money back.

A council statement said: “Even if the advertisement indicates the seller is a trader, it leaves the consumer vulnerable if the seller does not have recognised trade premises or an address.”

Now, Trading Standards has issued top tips for buyers to reduce the risk of being conned.

They are:

- If the seller wants to meet in a residential road, ask why. Do not agree to buy at the roadside or pay any money. If you can’t buy at the trader’s address, WALK AWAY

- If possible take a mechanic to check the vehicle is roadworthy.

- See the V5 registration document (the “log book”), the seller should have this document.

- Is there a current MOT certificate? Check the MOT history and verify the mileage at www.vosa.gov.uk by entering the MOT certificate number and vehicle registration number.

- Check the Vehicle Identity Number (VIN) matches the VIN number on the V5 registration document. Check the VIN plate (normally in the engine compartment, windscreen or under the driver’s side carpet) for evidence of tampering.

Cllr Lesley Kelly, cabinet member for public protection, said: “People often get caught up in the excitement of buying a new car but need to remember to do basic checks. Using our tips reduces the risk of buyers being taken for a ride - if there are any doubts our message is WALK AWAY.”

Have you been conned when purchasing a car? Contact Sam Gelder on 020 8477 3810 or email sam.gelder@archant.co.uk.

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