WARNING: Motorhome Selling Scams We Encountered

With our focus on finding a good deal for our first motorhome, we occasionally came across used motorhomes for sale that just seemed too good to be true and as the old saying goes if it seems that way, it usually is. Although we were complete novices in the motorhome market at the time, with a little bit of probing and questioning about these "amazing deals" it soon became obvious to us that something wasn't right. A little bit of searching on internet forums usually confirmed what we already knew, that the "deal" in question was just one of many well known used vehicle scams. Not only was this irritating (and frightening) to us, but we also think everyone looking in the used motorhome market should be aware of these to minimise the risk they ever get caught out.

Our viewing experiences and checklist

Generally speaking the scams we encountered fall into 3 types, although what's scary is that for each of them we discovered several examples in just the month or so that we were looking!

1. Cloned classified listings on eBay:
Using eBay for buying things online was fairly familiar to us. We'd bought a lot of our hiking gear this way and so far had been lucky enough never to come across these scams.

We were actually quite lucky to find out about cloned eBay listings at all. We'd been looking at a used motorhome on eBay for a particular price just before bed. We thought the price was ridiculously cheap for the motorhome in question at the time. When we woke up the following day we were surprised that we couldn't find it again at the same price. There was an identical listing but it was much more expensive. On reading the description in the more expensive ad' it explained that their original advertisement had been cloned by scammers who had copied the page but changed the price and contact details. We had never seen the original ad' as it had been much higher than our price bracket and never would have found it if we hadn't been looking for that specific motorhome make and model.

After this we became much more cautious when we saw amazing bargains on eBay, always cross checking the specific motorhome model on the rest of eBay to make sure it hadn't been cloned from elsewhere. We actually discovered several more this way.

2. Copied classified listings on different websites:

Very similar to the eBay scam, but much harder to catch out was when scammers took all of the pictures and description from one website and created a brand new advertisement on another website completely. Again we accidentally stumbled onto one of these when we noticed an identical motorhome we'd already viewed listed on a different website at a cheaper price and with different contact details.

In future, the only way we found to check these out when something seemed too good to be true and was to copy the make/model into a Google search to see if any of the other websites had the same advertisement.

3. Sellers wanting a deposit up front before you can view the motorhome:
Perhaps the most sinister scam we came across was when we contacted sellers to be told some far-fetched (but not impossible) story about how we were welcome to view the motorhome but needed to pay a deposit up front first. Variations included "I'm in Afghanistan so need to get a friend to drive it to you", "I'm selling it for my father and he has it in Spain so we'll have to drive it back to the UK" and "it's in storage and it will cost me money to go and fetch it".

We found these very easy to see through since we would never have paid a deposit before going to see a motorhome anyway. However, we know that some people do and can see how easy it might be to get caught out this way.

Offline Scams?
In addition to online scams, another piece of practical advice we received and tried to follow whenever we did go and view a motorhome was to make sure the person selling it was the legal owner. It initially felt a little awkward to ask, but we were potentially paying out a lot of money and wanted to be sure, so we usually asked to see some form of ID to compare to the name on the V5 vehicle documents and asked to see the motorhome at the same address as that on the V5 as well. We also learned what a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) was and how to find it and check that the one on the V5 matched that on the ID strips bolted to the vehicle. 

On a couple of occasions where a small trade dealer (where we met them at a lockup or in one case a van hire yard where they kept their stock) only had the V5 in a previous owners name and address, with the relevant trade section missing, we would phone the DVLA to check the motorhome was registered as being "in trade". They were very obliging and it gave us extra peace of mind. (Incidentally the independent RAC inspection we had done also included a HPI report to verify the vehicle wasn't listed as 'stolen'). 

Finally, although not a scam, but something to be aware of is that some "too good to be true deals" might be motorhomes that are previously fire damaged or salvaged vehicles. If something has been written off and restored it should say so on the vehicle documents. It's completely legal but it's important to be aware of and comfortable with this as future sellers will also have to know.


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Adventures In Life, Love, Health, Travel... & Puppies!: WARNING: Motorhome Selling Scams We Encountered
WARNING: Motorhome Selling Scams We Encountered
Adventures In Life, Love, Health, Travel... & Puppies!
http://www.estheranddan.com/2015/01/warning-motorhome-buying-online-selling-scams.html
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