Car correspondence a caper for Carlos

IT BEGAN as a straightforward advert in a car magazine – and on its website – trying to sell a Mercedes car.

For former Sunday Times Scotland editor, Carlos Alba, it soon morphed into a lengthy email exchange with someone trying to blag his account details, as one finds day and daily in emails offering a fortune, by some amazing stroke of good luck.

Alba, who now works as a PR consultant, was selling his Mercedes C Class, for £4995.

The first substantial email he received, read as follows: “Thanks for the swift response and am OK with the price you give it away due to the nature of my work and location…I will not be able to come for inspection, am a very busy type as I work long hours everyday, I have gone through your advertisement and I am satisfied with it.

“As for the payment, I can only pay via the fastest and secure way to pay online payment. I have a private courier agent that will come for the pick up after the payment have been made…so no shipping included and with the issue of my details, transferring the name of ownership and signing of all paper work will be done by the courier services company agent so you don’t have to worry about that.”

At which point account details are requested, in order for the payment to be made.

Before long, Alba was signing himself off with various signatures. Under the name, ‘Charles White’, he wrote: “I should warn you at this stage that there is a slight scratch to the rear offside wing as a result of a recent bump. It’s nothing major and would take a decent panel beater only a few minutes to put right.”

When that didn’t put off the prospective purchaser, under the name, ‘Charles Farley’, Alba then wrote: “As you have been so reasonable about the scratch, I feel duty bound to inform you that the gearbox is cream crackered and the breakpads are shinier than Ross Kemp’s dome in a sauna. My wife suggested I should keep schtum and pull the old ‘caveat emptor’ flanker but I know that if I was to do that I wouldn’t be able to sleep.”

And when the prospective purchaser was still keen, ‘Charley Barley’ replied: “There’s one other thing I should mention. I woke up this morning to find that the wheels had been stolen and that the car was being supported on four piles of bricks. We have a local Neighbourhood Watch guy but he stayed in last night to watch the Great British Bake Off. I’ve managed to source some secondhand wheels from the local scrappy. They’re not alloys, I’m afraid, and they don’t quite fit, but beggars can’t be choosers. Anyway, the upshot is that, with labour costs factored in, it’s added another four grand to the cost of the car. Let me know if you’re happy to pay the new cost of £8,995.”

And so, it continued. And so, it fell to Stanley Cranley to write: “I should mention that, overnight, someone appears to have broken into the car and left a big toaley on the back seat. My wife thought it might be foxes but I’ve had a close look and it’s definitely human. I suspect the culprit is that wee slag Tanya McCafferty at 96. She’s had it in for me ever since I caught her getting a knee trembler round the back of the chippie and told her parents.

“I realise that a car with a giant stool on the back seat is a less attractive proposition but I’ve checked the relevant legislation and, having made a formal offer for the property, you are now legally responsible for all digestible materials found therein etc, etc.

“As far as the price is concerned I won’t accept a penny less than the £9,995 we agreed.”

And on it went, with Archie Malarky, Barney Blarney, Humphry Bumphry, Franky Panky, Mikey Spikey, Tony Baloney and Andy Shandy all getting in on the act.

And with the prospective purchaser finally penning: “Pls dont mail me again.”

In the end, the car was sold to a dealer from Benfleet in Essex.

Read the full exchange at