RV Selling Scam Exposed—Buyers Beware!
Just a heads up on an RV selling scam we recently uncovered during our own shopping that may keep you from losing thousands of $$$$$$
If you’re in the market for a used RV this year, this expose might head off disaster.
This scam was first identified in the property rental industry, where overseas scammers would hijack, steal, or borrow from legitimate listings for vacant housing and offer to rent the property to you for less than anything else you would find. When answering the ad, the email-only communication would follow the steps we will outline below, but suffice it to say, many people were “taken” for big money.
This same scam that was discovered to exist all over the US in the real estate business, has apparently migrated to the RV marketplace. Using the same recognizable formula, it has spread nationwide to the RV FSBO arena. It typically starts with a classified ad –we saw the examples cited here on Craigslist (NOT on the reputable RVT or RV Trader and other sites.)
The ads we saw were typically for a Class A RV at an extremely good price. There was a reference to “price reduced for quick sale”. The pix were awesome and the listing was detailed enough to sound legitimate (no doubt both pix and copy were pulled from the original, legitimate listing.) Of course the deal sounded great—too good not to explore! The immediate instinct is to respond. After all, we’re all looking for a good deal, right?
Here’s How This RV Purchase Scam Unfolds:
- After seeing the listing, the RV shopper responds by email through Craigslist. In our case, we were asking for more specific questions and more information on the coach.
- The response is relatively quick. In this email the RV shopper is told that this person is serving as an agent for the actual seller, who may be cited as another family member . The answers in this response seem like a cut and paste job, sometimes using poor english. In our case all of the questions were not answered. But the few details, if offered, seem to enhance the interest just enough to keep the RV shopper in the game.
- The RV shopper emails a response asking for a phone number, saying they would like to talk more with them about purchasing the RV.…..(Note: We recommend always asking for the phone number)….
- The scam artist’s response typically says that the actual owner is out of the country and that (this scam artist you’re communicating by email with) is actually in the hospital, cannot be reached by phone, and would not be available to show the RV at this time.
- The scam artist will suggest purchasing the RV, saying that the RV shopper will have full rights to inspect the RV before final acceptance when they come to pick it up, or if desired, the scammer will have the RV delivered to the RV shopper’s location within a week.
They add a note stating that money paid will somehow be safe under the eBay buyer protection system. (Keep in mind before you take the bait, that the listing you saw was NOT on eBay, so has nothing to do with eBay buyer protection!)
At this point we called the game. It should be over. In our final email we accused them of the scam thinking we might get a defensive response, but heard nothing more. Suspicion Confirmed.
To protect fellow RV shoppers, we flagged the ad as spam. In searching Craigslist nationally, we saw the listing appear in several other markets as well as seeing additional suspicious ads structured the same way.
Again, this is unfortunate for the many legitimate private sellers who do make great offers in the marketplace. We just hope these notes will better prepare you to make sure that your own great deal is legitimate.