A racket that sells stolen vehicles to International students

An international student in WA is facing financial turmoil after a second-hand car he bought off Facebook was seized by police, who informed him it was actually stolen.

As a way to earn some money, Umair Ishfaq decided it would be a good idea to purchase a second-hand car so that he could begin Uber driving.

Ishfaq decided to look on Facebook Marketplace, where he spotted what looked like a great deal: a 2018 Holden Astra for $6500.

Before finalising the purchase, Ishfaq said he diligently made all the appropriate checks, which included checking the vehicle’s Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) report.

This report confirmed there were no records of the car being stolen, so Ishfaq went ahead and contacted the seller and bought the car on June 30.

Ishfaq, who is originally from Pakistan but now lives in the Perth suburb of Tuart Hill, said nothing seemed suspicious during the transaction.

“(I) met him two times and he looked like a nice guy,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.

The 24-year-old said he felt confident that the deal was legit, and the car’s ownership was transferred into his name.

However five days later, Ishfaq received an unexpected visit from police.

“Police came to my house at nighttime, like 10 or 11 o’clock, and said ‘this car is stolen’,” the student said.

“I told them ‘I have the PPRS report for this car, and this car is under my name, so how can you (say) this car is stolen’?

“They (police) took the car from me, I was not able to do anything.”

Ishfaq said he fully co-operated with police, giving them all the details he had regarding the man he had purchased the car from.

He also made several visits to the Hillarys police station, where his car had been taken.

The following month, on August 4, Umair said he received a call from a police officer who informed him the car would be returned to him later that week.

Ishfaq promptly returned to the police station, eager to reclaim the vehicle he had spent thousands of dollars on.

However, when he got there, the international student said he was met with “devastating news”.

“The police investigation officer informed me that, despite their prior assurances, they had decided not to return the car to me,” Ishfaq said.

“Instead, the car would still stay in their custody.”

A spokesperson from WA Police told 7NEWS.com.au that the car was reported stolen the same day Ishfaq purchased it from the seller, which is likely why it did not show up on the PPSR report.

The Holden was allegedly stolen on June 16, before it is believed to have been sold the next day to a third party, who then sold it to Ishfaq.

When asked on whether Ishfaq would get the car back, the spokesperson said following legal advice, all the parties known to police who have an interest in the car must submit a notice of claim.

They will also need to submit a statutory declaration outlining their grounds for the claim.

The documents usually have to be submitted within 30 days.

“After the due date, police will assess any claims received and make a determination based on the legal services directions we have,” the spokesperson said.

Ishfaq has received the documents, which are due on September 26.

“Police require the included Notice of Claim and Statutory Declaration before a decision is made in relation to the release of the Holden Astra,” a letter addressed to Ishfaq from a senior constable at Hillarys Police Station said.

According to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spokesperson, Scamwatch has received 761 reports about second-hand vehicle scams across a number of sales platforms — including Facebook Marketplace — so far this year.

This equates to a total financial loss of just over $1 million.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, declined to provide a statement to 7NEWS.com.au.

On its website, Meta has a list of tips for users to avoid being scammed on Marketplace, including using PayPal for any payments and checking to see if the Facebook profile appears new or even incomplete.

Ishfaq now awaits to find out whether the Holden will be released back into his possession.

He said the whole situation has left him in financial distress.

“I am a student in Australia and have worked incredibly hard to earn the funds needed to purchase the car,” he said.

“This situation has left me in a state of immense stress and tension as I am now without the car I rightfully purchased.”

Because Ishfaq largely paid for the car in cash that he withdrew from a Commonwealth bank account, there is nothing he can do to recoup the money.

“I bought that car for (Uber) driving, I don’t have any other income source,” he said.

“My housemates are helping me because they are from my country …. (and) they know what’s going on with me.

“I’m not able to buy another car because I don’t have any income support.”

The WA Police spokesperson said an investigation into the stolen car is still ongoing.

(7 News)

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