Police are warning motorcycle and car buyers to be cautious when buying items online after a series of armed robberies.
Between 19 November 2019 and 22 January 2020, 12 reports of armed robberies relating to online auction sites were received across Manchester and Oldham. In most of the incidents offenders falsely advertised a vehicle on an online auction site like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, then organised to meet the buyers at a given location for the sale. On arrival, the potential buyers were threatened with weapons – including a gun, a hammer and machetes – before the offenders fled with a large quantity of the victim’s cash.
No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.
Greater Manchester Police has issued the following advice on how to stay safe when buying online:
“I want to reassure the public that we are taking these armed robberies very seriously and are working with online auction sites and other police forces to conduct a thorough investigation to try and find those responsible,” said Detective Sergeant Kat McKeown of GMP’s City of Manchester division.
“These offenders are very deceptive, so I would urge the public to please take note of the advice we have issued about staying safe when buying items online. Please remain alert and cautious, and report anything suspicious to police immediately.
“We are working with the victims that have come forward and I would urge anyone with any information relating to these robberies to get in touch with our investigation team on 0161 856 4409, quoting incident number 1926 of 21.”
In addition to this valuable advice, Bennetts BikeSocial recommends you ask the seller some questions through the eBay / Gumtree messaging service. Be very wary of any seller who demands you only contact them outside of the platform. Ask them detailed questions about their history with the vehicle – if something doesn’t sound right, move on, and don't be afraid to also call them on the phone, once you've established a connection through messaging. It’s also important to ensure that you carefully check that the VIN and engine numbers match the V5 if you do go to see the vehicle. If you’re completely happy with the vehicle and seller, it should then be safe to complete the sale at their home address, which must match that on the V5. For more motorcycle buying advice, click here.
When buying a vehicle online, always view it before paying any money; be careful not to be taken in by a well-established scam that sees gangs hack eBay and Gumtree accounts in order to pose as trusted sellers with good feedback. They then advertise vehicles at a temptingly low price, convincing buyers to part with their money without meeting face-to-face. You can read more about this scam here.