Fake rent-to-buy vehicle scheme rocks Zim

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A WELL-CALCULATED fake rent-to-buy vehicle scheme has rocked Zimbabwe with unsuspecting individuals wishing to drive personal cars falling prey to scammers over the past few months.

Police are yet to apprehend the fraudsters that are believed to be resident either in Beitbridge, Musina or Harare.

They use different mobile phone numbers to make good their plans and defraud unsuspecting individuals eager to buy cars.

They promise individuals the opportunity to own a car at zero deposit, but ask for administration fees and fuel for delivery of the vehicles in total ranging between between US$250 to US$300.

Rarely do they charge above US$300 unless an individual opts for a truck or minibus which have higher administration charges and fuel costs.

They carefully phrase the advertisement of their fraudulent schemes on social media like WhatsApp groups, Facebook and other informal outlets, an investigation by NewsDay established.

The line goes dead and the number becomes unreachable.

Dozens of people have fallen for the trick, some from as far afield as Australia who wished to buy cars for loved ones back home in Zimbabwe.

One typical advertisement flighted on social media reads: “SBT MOTORS ZIMBABWE* *_car dealership_* *Rent to Buy A Car.* It is buying a car on credit with zero deposit and start paying for it after 30 days while using it for 18 months (instalments).

“Rent to buy is for everyone who is willing to drive a car of his/her choice and make money with it. We also give discounts to all those who do cash and drive (paying cash).

“After your details and particulars have been approved and you are satisfied with the vehicle you want to rent you have to pay administration fee and transportation of US$310.

“You will pay for the vehicle monthly instalments for 18 months while using the vehicle. You pay after 30 days, 3 days before or 3 days after.”

The advert added: “As the vehicle still belongs to SBT Motors, we process the number plates for, we are responsible for tax and insurance (mutero tisu tinobhadhara).

“If you fail to pay for 3 months (90 days) the vehicle will be retrieved from you. Admin fee and transportation free to be paid before you get your vehicle, which is to be deposited/Zipit to our FBC account using the prevailing rate.”

Other scammers have names like Valiant Motors, Beitbridge Car Rentals and Sales just to name a few.

Their advertisements are convincing although careful readers notice several mistakes unlikely to be made by businesses of that magnitude.

An investigator said the scammers could be using modern applications on the mobile phones to select potential victims.

“For instance when you use a number from a certain mobile phone operator you can be able to verify the names if you purport to send money through mobile phone transfers. They can check your details and even go to LinkedIn or True Caller to verify,” the investigator said.

“In some cases they may even be using search engines like Google where some names appear easily.”

An attempt to use the application by this reporter failed when they demanded an identity card matching the name used.

A Beitbridge resident who made an attempt said their responses were calculated.

“Once they ignored me and later came back on WhatsApp to say they had been overwhelmed by Zambian clients. They then said they had a few cars left and were waiting for delivery from Japan and the highest bidders would get the little stock left,” he said.

“I failed to raise the required US$400, and when they asked me to deposit US$300, I sensed that it was a scam.”

Beitbridge lawyer with Garikayi and Partners and former magistrate Jabulani Mzinyathi recently took to social media to warn the public about the marauding con artists.

“I have clients in the four corners of the country. Some fell victim to scammers and wanted me to help recover what they lost,” Mzinyathi posted.

“I tried to locate the scammers at the said physical address; there was no such address.

“I then decided to give a blanket warning on social media where I reach out to around four thousand people to spread the message with their followers.”

Vendors who operate along Granite Road in Beitbridge said they had seen several people asking for directions to a car sale.

“Some came from as far as Buhera and spent the day trudging up and down Granite Road until they asked us. Because we have seen so many people asking for the same place we knew they had been duped,” one vendor said.

Although the adverts have come in different names, their wording is almost the same. – News Day