What is a Freight Forwarding Scam? How to Avoid.

AutoTrader NZ
Published 19 April 2024

Selling your vehicle online can be a daunting process, dealing with so many buyers, payment methods and potential scams. 

Make sure you stay safe from freight forwarding scams with these top tips.

What is a freight forwarding scam? How does it work?

A freight forwarding scam is when a fake buyer contacts the seller wanting to purchase the car, they usually want to purchase the vehicle at the full asking price, having the vehicle sent via a fake car transporting company.

These fake buyers will usually give a back story on how they cannot come and see the car in person. Usually, this is because they claim they are overseas, on holiday or working abroad.

They will then send a fake proof of payment claiming they have paid you in full. This will usually be a fake bank transfer screenshot, PayPal transaction, MoneyGram etc.

The ‘buyer’ will claim to have paid you extra for the cost of freight. This is usually a red flag especially since they are the ones arranging it. 

The ‘buyer’ will then ask the seller to get in contact with the freight company and pay the ‘transport company’ for the shipping. 

Here is where the scam comes in. The transport company does not exist, and the ‘buyer’ never paid for the car or the shipping in the first place, meaning the seller will never receive the money, making them out of pocket for the shipping paid to the fake transport company (who is the scam ‘buyer’), likely to never see the money again.

What to watch out for: 

  • You never actually receive the payment into your account, even if they sent through a payment confirmation email.
  • They want to pay the asking price on first contact, asking no questions about the car, with conversations just over email.
  • They want their ‘arranged’ transport company to pick up the car, and you, the seller to sort out the payment
  • When googling the transport company, they do not exist or are not a registered business.
  • They are overseas, or claim they work internationally and cannot see the car.
  • The payment screenshot seems suspect, poorly photoshopped, or different font.
  • If they message via their contact number, their contact number is not a New Zealand number.

See our Safe Selling Guides