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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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Used-car racketeering takes resident for a ride in Qatar

Used-car racketeering takes resident for a ride in Qatar

Investing in a used-car is the first choice for many residents, especially if it’s a second car. And there is no dearth of used cars, given the revolving doors of expatdom. Since authorised dealers charge a premium, many look at direct sale with the owner. These sales are usually facilitated through online forums.

However, the experience of one resident, has exposed what seems to be a used car racketeering that has affected more than a few buyers.

B.P. spoke to JustHere about his harrowing experience, and a resolution that involved great determination and planning.

Two weeks ago B.P., on the lookout for a vehicle for his wife, came across a classified post online of a “First-owner, Lady-driven” Nissan X-Trail 2009. It seemed like a reasonable enough deal of QR45,000.

B.P immediately set up a meeting with the seller, who called himself Mohammed. “On inspecting the car, it had a few bumps and scratches, but that wasn’t a major concern. I test-drove it down the block, and it seemed fine. I asked to get the computer test done, but the guy told me that another potential customer already did it the previous day, and showed me the results. They score was 97%. Finding no faults, I agreed on the deal.”

the seller turned off his mobile the moment the car was sold – he had 10 numbers, all turned off except when a car was being advertised.”

But within days of taking possession of the car, he realised that the deal was not quite right.

The car broke down a couple of times. On checking with the mechanic, he learnt that the car had been doctored to show 42,000 kms, but had certainly done between 120,000 to 150,000 kms. The gearbox was damaged too. “This was clearly an old car. It would have cost me QR10,000-12,000 to bring the car back into a perfect working condition.”

B.P. knew he was conned, and was now desperate to get hold of the scamster, and most importantly get his money back.

The chase

What followed was days of online research. He looked up social media channels to try and get hold of him, but the seller was nowhere to be found. “Mohammed had introduced himself as an employee of Qatar Airways, so I called up the airlines and enquired about him. They said they would investigate.”
And as he had suspected, there was no such employee within the organisation.

Next, he searched online based on the mobile number used by the seller, which revealed similar posts made on Qatar Living by this number. There was a pattern to this. Every few days, the vendor put out one new car online. All offers that seem too good to resist.

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Checklist before buying a used car

A tough lesson definitely, but one learnt well, BP advises customers who plan to buy used cars online to do their due diligence.

  • Beware of posts selling ‘First-owner, lady driven cars’, as these posts are sometimes part of a scam.
  • Get the car personally checked by a mechanic. Don’t rely on computer tests as some owners use special oil supplements to make the car high-powered for a short duration just to pass the test.
  • Check the quality of the tyres, including the spare tyre.
  • Note down the last six digits of the engine number, and call up the dealership’s service centre to enquire about the car’s service history. You can also get the full ownership and accident history from the traffic department.
  • When test-driving the car, don’t just drive at slow speeds, take the car on the freeway and see how it performs at higher speeds (a little over 100km/hr) – shaking and poor power are often signs of engine problems.
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However, the seller turned off his mobile the moment the car was sold – he had 10 numbers, all turned off except when a car was being advertised. When the next car came on sale from this number,  B.P.  asked a couple of his friends to bid for one of the cars on sale. A meeting was set up to inspect the car at a parking lot near the Radisson Blu Junction.

Once his friends started ‘inspecting’ the car,  B.P joined them. As soon as Mohammed saw B.P., he tried to make a quick escape, in vain.

While the seller didn’t confess outright about the racket, he did admit that he was terrified of being reported to the police, and hence was trying to run away. He also admitted that he had ‘only sold 6 cars’ so far. “He didn’t argue when we accused him of ruining people’s lives or contravening his religious beliefs. Also, he works in a garage in the Industrial Area, and not Qatar Airways as he told me.”

What ensued was hours of haggling. “We sat at a restaurant and gave him the option of buying back the vehicle or sorting it out immediately with the authorities. A family member had joined him, and they agreed to buy back the vehicle. They paid QR30,000 immediately, and paid the rest the following day when I transferred the ownership. It was over in under 18 hours.”

A post on Qatar Living warns people of the scams carried out by the seller mentioned in the article.
The post on Qatar Living warning people of this scam.
A scan of the most popular online vendor sites reveals several similar transactions from this person. Note the repeated usage of ‘lady-driven’ and ‘first owner’.

 
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Apparently, when a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Comments

  1. Very good advise for the first time buyer.

  2. Arifa Nasreen

    Does anybody have any idea who can I contact the person who wrote this article or anyone else who can help?
    I am a victim of this fraud and I need to sort things out now!!!

  3. Burned Expat

    I just purchased a GMC Yukon for 60k at Qatar Living. The man who sold it to me told me that his wife was the only person who drove it. Four days after buying it, it broke down and needed major repairs. The man who sold it to us told us that he only owned it for eight months, and that his wife had sold it to him. The dealer told us that the odometer had been tampered with. The man who sold it to us is Qatari, so I think we have lost our money. I’m ready to just leave the country, as we can’t absorb 90,000 qr in debt.

  4. Zafar

    Really piece in creating social awareness. This helps not only those buying cars but those who are being approached for counsel by friends. People who have been here long cant even imagine such racketeers exist and this helps keep our eyes and ears open.

  5. ryan

    I want to sell my 2013 Nissan Pathfinder SUV, No accident Record and car in perfect shape, This PATHFINDER comes with: Leather Steering Wheel, Heated Mirrors, Split Folding Rear Seats, Cruise Control, Keyless Entry, Running Boards,Tachometer, Roof Rack, Side Impact Airbag, Power Windows, Inside Hood Release, Bucket Seats, Anti-Theft, Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Security System, Intermittent Wipers, Power Brakes, Fog Lights.

    contact me for more information and pictures, Only Serious buyer should contact me.

    Email: r.aarontyler@gmail.com

  6. Raji

    I want to know what can be done to a person who sold me a car at a very higher price. I got the computer check which didn’t show much problems but later I find out that the car had a big accident and the whole car is done up. Can I complain to the police or file a case in the court. I spoke to police he said that once it is transfered it’s done but I don’t think that u cheat people and make money. Advice pleas

    • Car-Wiz

      Dear Raji,

      The price of vehicle is not controlled by anyone but owner, that means if you find a person to buy you car that actual value is 30,000 for 60,000 that is your success in trade!
      People are using these computer checks and they are useles! Like I have mentioned in previous posts!
      You ne to find one honest mechanic and stick to him they usually have all necessary tools and computers to estimate an inspect the vehicle! Your mechanic might even recognize the vehicle coz those good mechanics will see all kind of cars coming to them for patching and if you are his loyal customer he will not let you buy that from seller! As per your mechanic problems on your vehicle I sure hope you get to solve the problem! Best of luck
      I hope I was of assistance

  7. Subo
  8. this guy is obviously still at it
    just phoned someone the other day about a car
    the deal was very good and he wanted to meet at the raddison hotel car park, not at his home
    car was reasonably cheap and low milage
    i was later unable to contact him on that phone no.

  9. Car-Wiz

    Hello guys,

    I don’t know where to start explaining what you did wrong from begining !
    Firstly when you look for car you should do review of the car and see what is weakness of that vehicle.
    There is many web sites that are independent to check with, like Kelly Blue book or many others.
    Secondly you never take car to this computer check as this is first scam in Qatar! There is no computer check that I have seen in Qatar that performs proper check of vehicle! There is no way someone can plug computer in car and tell you engine or transmission is 97%! This is scam!!! In order to check engine properly or to measure the remaining life of engine you have to remove spark plugs out of engine and for each cylinder you have to measure compression which means internal cylinder preasure when you turn engine over.
    Thirdly you should find one mechanic that is knowledgeable in repairing your car not patching or just gluing and stick to that mechanic completely because I have seen many so called mechanics in Doha and they make more damage to your car than what they fix! I have seen this with my eyes!!! On customers cars as well mine! I wish to open one service where people who care for their cars have piece of mind and assurance when they leave te car for repair.
    All these guys have down side, just need to look closer for one Mohammed from 1,000 that is honest! I wish I cleared some things and I’m sorry that I was to literate.
    My passion are cars and if you need advice feel free to ask I will guide you for sure

    • afzal

      hi ,
      the information provided by you is so helpfull for buyers. well i am planning to take a second hand vehicl. my choice of options are honda accord or fj cruiser. 2010 or 2011 model.what would you suggest. your reply on this will be highly appreciated

  10. kaz

    Hi

    Can I also contact the author of this article as I think I have fallen victim to the same scam. I want to stop this guy once and for all.

    Thanks

  11. thank you for your advice. yeah Used cars have a lower purchase price and can be a much better value overall. If you purchase from a private seller with no dealer in the transaction, you’ll probably get a better price — but if the deal turns out to be a bad one, the seller usually will not allow you to return it. http://autozqa.com/

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