Car Boot Sale Scams
First of all, you're probably never going to have to worry about car boot sale scams or scammers if you are just holding a one-off boot sale stall.
The last thing we want to do is put people off going to car boot sales! However, we want everyone to have a good day and enjoy their local car boot sale and so it's best to be wise to the scams that do go on.
In my experience, if you are selling at a Car Boot sale, the best way to avoid most of the scams is to do a stall with a friend or a relative. If one of you is distracted the other can still keep an eye on the stall.
If you are buying then just apply some sensible scepticism, if something is too good to be true, it probably is, so think twice.
The following advice is common sense but when we are busy or distracted we can sometimes lose sight of the opportunities we are presenting to thieves.
This used to just happen at markets but is now becoming more common at car boot sales. This is where a buyer agrees to buy an item, usually new, and is then given a boxed item. When the buyer gets home and opens the box they find the item is damaged, faulty or replaced with a item of lesser value. A good example is a laptop computer that may have no insides. The Seller never reappears at the boot sale and the buyer can never trace them for a refund.
To avoid this scam simply open the box in front of the seller and ensure the item(s) are as they should be. If you are not totally satisfied ask for an immediate refund or do not complete the sale. If you do complete the sale ask for a receipt and 'log' the vehicles registration number plate at the bottom.
Markets and car boot sales seem to be a favourite place for passing on fake bank notes.
This either simply involves someone trying to pass you a fake note in payment or protesting that you have given ‘them’ a fake bank note. It can also often involve someone asking you to change up a note for them.
You can avoid being caught in this scam by carefully checking all larger notes (£10+) in front of the person or by buying and using a standard £2.99 bank note detector pen. If you believe someone is trying to pass fake bank notes please inform a marshal.
This is a method employed by 'gangs'. Several people are involved and it usually starts with one or two individuals creating a distraction that causes the seller to be caught off guard. In most cases other gang members will attempt to steal something from your stall or even from your vehicle. They are usually long gone before you realize you have had your property stolen.
This scam can occur when a buyer picks up several items at a time, putting some back down on the stall and then picking up more. In the mean time they'll 'umm and ah' over the prices. The idea is to confuse or even distract the seller enabling the juggler or an accomplice to steal from the stall. The juggler scam works well because it appears innocent and as a seller you are pleased at the prospect of making a multi-sale. It is also easy to be distracted while someone is holding handfuls of your property.
To avoid this scam you must be on the ball and above all else in control. After all it is your stall and your property. Firstly check along your stall and see if anyone else is handling valuable items. If so speak to them in a clear authoritative voice letting them know you are aware of them. E.g., 'Hello there, I am asking £20 for that Timex Watch.' If they are innocent they'll appreciate the information and if they are not then they will be put off by being clearly acknowledged.
Then disarm the juggler (remember they are probably a genuine buyer). Say something like, 'O.k., you've a few bits there let me see what the best price I can do for you.'
Take the items back, one by one and give a individual price for each, while doing so put the item close to you on the stall.
Now you are in control.
This is a common scam and plays on the ‘sellers conscious’. By law you do have to provide a refund if an item is not as described when you sold it. On this basis some people buy an item, take it away and remove the parts they need! They then return and complain that it is incomplete or not working and demand a refund.
This is a tricky one! The only way to avoid handing back the money in exchange for a now useless item is to use receipts that state 'SOLD AS SEEN'. Even then they do not legally cover you against having to give a refund. If you are selling an item that could be stripped for parts then use a 'Sold as Seen' receipt and get the buyer to sign a copy of acceptance for you. You can use a little note pad. If the buyer is unwilling to do this then perhaps it's best not to sell them the item.
This is probably the most common way of losing items from your stall. The palmist is an opportunist thief. One moment they may be handling an item the next moment they are gone and so has the item. These types of thieves usually strike just before they leave the boot sale so it is normally impossible to catch them.
There is a big rise in 'Pick Pocketing'. Make sure your valuables are safe at all times.
If you are aware of any other scams or incidents that fellow car boot fans should be made aware off then please email us
Please remember, you're very unlikely to be affected by any of the subjects we have covered - we just think it's better to be aware of them - happy Car Booting.