The rise in ‘For Sale/Swap groups’ on Facebook has been generally a good thing for consumers, they can sell things without fees to local people who need them.
Only problem is just like offline for sale boards/sections you get other industries jumping on board, e.g. weight loss scammers, scrap metal scammers & in this case, rogue removal people in vans.
Becky Szenk, 22, and fiancé Mark Higgins, 28 were moving house (just 8 miles away) and found a local home removal ‘advert’ on Facebook, the chaps turned up, loaded the boxes onto their van and then were never seen again!
West Midlands Police confirmed they are investigating and treating the crime as theft.
‘The men had told me in advance to pack all of our belongings into boxes and label them up clearly – I didn’t realise at the time, but they took the most valuable items first.’
“It’s left us absolutely heartbroken. We can get new furniture but the personal stuff cannot be replaced.
“For us it’s been a big lesson to learn. I just hope others can be more careful about trusting people they book over social media as I would hate for this to happen to anyone else.”
Obviously you’re going to be extremely careful with ‘man in a van’ style adverts but here are the tips we would use to avoid this scam:
- Ask for a company name, full names of the drivers and maybe if you really don’t trust them a photo of their driving licence… (expect weird looks when you ask that, but if they say no then you have good reason to suspect something isn’t right)
- If you do use one, take photos of the van + number plate and we would follow them to your destination
- You can hire vans very easily these days, places like IKEA/Homebase etc offer vans from £13 per hour, £30 overnight and £50 per day however age limits apply (normally 21)
- Use websites like AnyVan – allow users to review van drivers + save on average 75% compared with the highstreet