An RV Buying Scam: A Warning for Motorhome Owners Who Want to Sell

Updated on December 15, 2017
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and shares his experiences with valuable tips.

I really wanted to SELL my Motorhome

I actually have my RV for sale.

The reason that it's for sale isn't important, really. I'm not getting out of the RV lifestyle, rather I am trying to move down in the size of my RV.

We have a big Rig. A very nice, 42-foot, 4-slide Monaco Camelot, that is loaded with luxury options.

We started out in early Spring on what was going to be a 1 to 5 year run around the country. Our big dream trip.

But you see, as we got onto the road and "lived the lifestyle", it became more and more obvious that our bodies were telling us that we just can't, physically do those many common things required to be a Full-Timer; at least not like we used to.

So after almost a year of traveling (loving every minute by the way, including the pain) we finally accepted the fact that we just could not physically do this full time, anymore..

And with that decision, the next obvious realization was that we didn't need such a large and elaborate Motorhome.

This was especially true if we were going to drop back to shorter trips, in distance as well as in time-on-the-road.


Monaco Camelot - Motorhome

Source

It is a BUY BIGGER and NEWER Industry


And, if you are an experienced RVer, you know that the whole Camper sales industry is designed to get you into a larger and more expensive Rig, rather than dropping back, as we want to do.

They call it "Trading Up!"

I have talked with dealers as we traveled across the country, over the past year, literally, from California to Florida, and each and every one of them wants to "steal" my Motorhome from me.

It is actually shocking at how far they want to discount their offer on a Motorhime, if you want to either "Trade Down" or OMG, outright Sell your Rig.

They really cool when you stand your ground and refuse to consider a "Trade-Up".


Monaco Camelot
Monaco Camelot | Source

RV Selling Buzzards

So, after a lot of research and conversations with old-timer RVers, I came up with a selling plan, and the first step was advertising.

You have to understand that the market for Rv's is a lot smaller and specialized than the automobile market.

And, because of this, you need to have your Rig or Camper presented on the web or in magazines in the most favorable light to capture the interest of this limited range of potential buyers.

Well, I did my research and I ended up with my Rig listed on a couple of the most popular RV SALES sites. Then, I sat back and waited for offers.

I immediately found that there is a large flock of "Selling Buzzards" out there, who want to help you Sell your Rig..... For a Price.

They ALL will Guarantee you that;

1- they are the best RV Sellers in the country.

2- they will sell your RV at the highest price of anyone else.

3- they will sell your RV faster than anyone else.

4- and they Guarantee everything, Yadaa, Yadaa, Yadaa.

In reality, these Seller Buzzards, and I call them that because, just like the real respectable buzzards in the world, that circle Roadkill for a while before they decide to land and feast on the carcass, these Sellers, scan the WEB sites that have your RV for sale, and send you emails with their grandiose offers of financial relief. JUST TRUST THEM!

And, if, in a moment of weakness, you respond, they pounce on you and start their sales pitch.

It will go something like this;

1- You Rig will be listed on over a gazillion sites, nationwide. (REALITY? They will list your Rig on their remote site, and they will have ads for their site available for search engines to find with the right search words.)

2- Your Rig will be listed in the top-15, 20, 26, etc. RV magazines in the country. (REALITY? They will have their ads for themselves in those magazines with no direct listing of your Rig.)

3- They guarantee your RV sells, in 60, 90, 180, etc. days, or your money is refunded. (REALITY? Yeah, Sure, just try to get your money back from them.)

4- And, if you sign up right now and use the code provided, they will give you $100 off of their regular price of; $249, $349, $399, etc.

What a gang of crooks.


My Selling Strategy

Anyway, now that I have gotten that off of my chest, here is what i actually did.

I listed my Motorhome on two of the more reputable, and popular RV Listing sites, with pictures and a detailed description of my Rig.

And, every couple of weeks I also list my Rig on eBay.

These three sites give my Rig pretty good exposure, and even though the market for larger Motorhomes is pretty weak, I have been happy with my plan, so far, even though I have not really come close to a real sale.

Oh, I get interested people, but there has been no closure so far.

The Buyer SCAM

When you put your contact information out there, and you have to if you are going to eventually sell your Rig, you need to deal with a lot of different people, like: the dreamers, the Low-Ball Offers, the bored talkers who don't really want to buy, and other strange personalities.

But, that is apart of the selling game and you have to sift through these different "just interested" characters to get to that real Buyer out there, who is going to make you a reasonable offer, and can actually afford your Rig.

Anyway, I received an email a couple of weeks ago, from a person in Kentucky.

He said that he was an Automobile Procurer for other people.

He also stated that he thought he had a buyer for my Rig, and wanted me to answer some more questions about my Motorhome.

This is a normal part of the beginning of a Sale, so we swapped emails for several days until we had gotten down to the particulars of an actual deal.

It was at this point that I got Warning Sign#1!

He didn't try to knock my price at all. He accepted the number i gave him immediately.

It was at this point that he sent me a number of stipulations that he and his Buyer, of course had. They were;

1- They wanted me to accept an earnest fee of $500.

2- They would find an Inspector to check the Rig out professionally.

3- They would arrive at my site, and after the Inspection, they would test drive my Rig.

4- They would pay me with a "Bank Check" and close the deal.

Well, this drove us into another half-dozen or more emails, as i had these new steps clarified, such as;

Requirement#1- I accepted the $500 earnest money but for only a 2-week period. That was OK with them.

Requirement #2- You have to accept an inspection of your Rig, so this was OK with me.

Requirement #3- Of course a personal drive and even inspection is expected by the buyer before he closes on a sale of this size..

Requirement #4- This one drove me back to my Bank, where I had a meeting with one of the managers and learned several things;

A- The payment by the Buyer must be either Cash or a Cashiers Check.

B- the Buyer will give the Cashiers check to the Bank manager, and they will, in turn, contact the other Bank and confirm that the Cashiers Check is 1-valid, that 2-it (the serial number) was issued by the other bank, and that 3-the specific check is backed by the funds listed on the check.

After notifying the Buyers, they accepted the Banks requirements for the closing of the deal.

They said that closing at my Bank, as I had stated, was OK. So, at this point, I started to get more confident that I might actually have a buyer for my Rig.

Then I received another, more detailed description of how they required to first check to be handled. This was Warning Sign #2, and as it turns out, the real show stopper.

Their more detailed requirement was that they would send me a Bank Check for my Earnest Money but it would also include the payment to the Vehicle Inspector that they selected.

And, I had to cash this check, take my money and also pay the Inspector within 3-days of receiving the check.

This WAS the actual SCAM!

I thought a while, and i responded that, after talking, yet again, with my banker, I had learned that when any check was received, it could take up to a total of ten-days for it to be processed by two different banks.

Also, I told them that the normal procedure was for the potential Buyer to select, and pay the Inspector at their own cost. and not, have the Seller handle this for them,

They responded that this was not acceptable, as they had already made plans for travel,and that I had to process this check in their required 3-days.

I firmly replied that I had to follow the directions of my Bank, and that they could bring cash, or I would require the 10-day processing time.

And, guess what? All communications stopped.

What was the actual SCAM?

Well, they never intended to buy my Motorhome.

Rather, they wanted me to cash this first check for the earnest payment and the mythical Inspectors payment. Then I was to hand over this Inspectors fee to someone that they designated.

They would in turn disappear, of course before the 3-days were up.

Then, a few days later (4 to 10?) I would get a call from my bank that the check was rubber, and I was responsible for paying the bank back, for my earnest money as well as the inspectors fee.

No Sale, No Cry!

Sorry, I had a Bob Marley moment there:>)

So, Here I sit,

I still own my Motorhome. It is still listed on my favorite three sites for sale.

And, I have learned yet another way to take advantage of my fellow man and drive him to trust no one but himself.

Oh Well!

I guess I will keep my Motorhome stored for longer periods of time, and when I viist relatives and friends, I can pull up in style in my Big Rig,that I don't need!


How to Inspect your RV for Water Damage

Keeping Bugs out of your Camper

How to Winterize your Camper

Questions & Answers

  • More than ever, we need to be well-informed of the financial entrapments out there. I am also a senior with an RV travel trailer for sale. It is currently listed on C.L., but the only responses received have been fraudulent text messages. Would you please share the names of the "two more reputable listing sites" which you mentioned in the paragraph in this article entitled "My Selling Strategy"?

    I have used RVTRADER several times and RVUSA once. Each site gets a lot of exposure with potential buyers and is professional looking. That's about all you can ask of the websites; it's still up to you to drive the sale with your pictures, description of your RV, and sales acumen when someone calls you.

© 2011 Don Bobbitt

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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 weeks ago from Ruskin Florida

      Mario - What you say is so true, but as long as there are gullible people out there, there are unsavory people who will take advantage of them.

      Thanks for the comment, DON

    • profile image

      Mario 

      3 weeks ago

      This scam has been going on for years on Craigslist, I personally have had this scam tried on me 3 or 4 times, and i know others who have had this tried on them too. It would be so simple to catch these scammers, but law enforcement doesn’t seem to care. The simple rule of thumb is, if it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 weeks ago from Ruskin Florida

      Sorry my friend, but for decades people and dealers traded using NADA LOW RETAIL and HIGH RETAIL as benchmarks for trades. But over the past decade the dealers now, the dealers want to allow pricing below even wholesale for trades and actually tell the gullible buyers that LIST is what they should pay. Then they throw in something like " but because we like you we will take $5k off of list. Aren't we thoughtful?"

      Dealers continue to take advantage, until the end of years pricing for new models force them to drop the price on the units still on their lots.

      The margins that dealers get these days are exorbitant, and that's undeniable.

      DON

    • profile image

      Randy Broughton 

      3 weeks ago

      There are many companies that will consign rvs. You should understand that just like the auto industry, the depreciation is a large part here. Everyone wants retail for their trade and want to pay wholesale. A company cannot stay in business that way. Good luck in selling your rig. I have been selling these things about 8 years and most of my customers love me. Just remember profit is not a bad thing if you are getting what you think is a good deal.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Vivian - Sure, people do it every day.

      I suggest that you first go to an office supply store like Stapes and get a Bill-of-sale form and any other forms you might see that you could use.

      And, write up a simple guarantee form of your own that states what you expect from the seller over the next 30-days or so. Considering what a motorhome costs, a simple 50-50 warranty for 30-days or so should be expected.

      Also, get the sellers signature on every thing in front of a Notary Public.

      Then the seller should sign the title and go with you to the DMV while they transfer it to you, just to make sure there are no problems with the ownership.

      That's pretty much all you need to do.

      Have a great day,

      DON

    • profile image

      Vivian 

      3 months ago

      I am looking to buy a motor home thru owner only I don’t want to deal with dealerships at all. Any suggestions?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Wendyg311 - This has all of the signs of a SCAM! Just as you described it, I would shut down this "Deal" and threaten these guys with calling the Cops. Then see what they say.

      There are so many Con-Artists traveling around looking for people to take advantage of that you need to always be cautious.

      Again, I'd just call the Cops and give them these guys names. And just move on to looking for an honest buyer.

      There are a number of professional web sites that will charge you from $50 to $150 to list your RV nationally. They will take your pictures and description and make them look very nice, such as RV Trader for one.

      And, I would NEVER dal with a stranger without their knowing that you will sit down with them at your local bank, and have them manage the deal, especially the transfers pf money.

      Good Luck,'DON

    • profile image

      Wendyg311 

      6 months ago

      Hi. I’m wondering if anyone has heard of any scams along these lines.....

      My mother, in FL, is trying to sell her motor home, she is 75 and really on the ball. My father died so she can’t use it now. I am so greatful she has two friends (men) where she stores it, who took pictures of the rv, and put their phone numbers so a man would be answering the phone, on Craigslist. She has had a lot of calls because it’s a 2006, but looks brand new because my father was a neat freak. Two guys came to look at it today. It has been raining for a few days. My mother and husband were in the camper yesterday and everything was fine. She was there with my husband and the two guys seemed very nice, but they just barged in. One went into the bathroom, the other straight to the bedroom, pulling up the bedding and the mattress. The guy in the bathroom said there was a leak. Of course my mom and husband were stunned and looking in there, when the guy in the bedroom said there was a leak in the bedroom. When my husband checked, there was a puddle of water on the carpet next to the bed, and part of the bed was wet. There was water down the wall in the bathroom. The guys said it was no problem, they could fix it and offered my mother half of what she was asking because of the leaks. My mother suggested my husband go on the roof to look at it. The guys said, no don’t do that it’s too dangerous because the leaks mean the roof is soft. My mother was so upset because of the leaks thinking she would never sell it now, she took their offer. They gave her a $200.00 deposit. She didn’t know that the title she took with her was only a copy. So she had to go home and look for it. The guy told her he would be there to pick up the rv at 10am on Monday. She wasn’t home 10 min and the guy was calling her to see if she had the original. He called her twice.

      My husband started getting a feeling something was up. He went back to the camper, and the wet spot next to the bed which had been a puddle, was just damp now. The wet spot on the bed was just slightly damp now, and the water in the bathroom was almost dry. But it hadn’t stopped raining. He checked the ceilings and they are dry. My husband thinks they rushed in, went in two directions, and dumped water from a water bottle or ziplock. She’s going to tell them she is not selling it because she wants to get it fixed before she sells it to try to get more for it.

      Has anyone ever heard of something like this? The rush and distract tactics. She’s old, the rv is immaculate. They know it’s worth double what they offered.

      Thank you

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Norlyn - I understand your frustrations with selecting the right RV and working out a deal on a used RV.

      Good Luck in your search, and BTW, I finally did sell mine.

      ave a great day,

      DON

    • profile image

      Norlyn Nelson 

      7 months ago

      I actually was going to buy a motorhome at a motorhome place in or RV place in Monticello Minnesota I got their tour closing time and I looked at it several used large motorhomes was pretty much only about 60,000 miles on each one of them and right around 10 grand and that's kind of what I wanted. So I had made a decision to buy it except for they had one more and they didn't know where it was parked and so I I waited on buying the one case I like the last one better we went ahead and seen better but they sold it out from under me it was it yeah I forgot the name of it but if I seen it I know it cuz there is a reason that many. But it was still one that I like the most and looking forward to getting it and was in was kind of excited about it but that was the best deal.. you know there's lots of them out there or not you know I'm just looking for the best deal for what I want and I having a hard time selling them a lot of them for what they're asking and they're not worth what to ask cuz there's too much damage you know there's just too old. But that's what I was interested in something in the 90s at least like yours with a generator because most of them have a generator. And I was looking to pay about 10 grand. I've come across a couple of sea model ones that are a little older that are really low miles and in really good shape for as low as 3 Grand. I like I like to class A one that would go a thousand miles if I decided to without breaking down. I'm a very honest man I don't know anybody more honest in this day in age I don't lie I don't cheat I don't steal and I'm a good friend of my friends put my life on the line but I'm not looking to buy the most expensive one. I love you I want you to know about the ones they're selling Chief or they want to sell the newer ones. I don't know what you're asking for yours but good-looking luck in selling it for the price you want.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      18 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Anna - For safety's sake, I would recommend that you check in your area for a reputable RV Dealer who will sell your RV on consignment. They will put your RV on their lot and try to sell it for you within the price limits you both agree to. And if they sell it, they will handle the sale paperwork, and take 10% off of the top.

      But the good thing about them is that your RV is getting seen by potential customers and is being stored for you.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Anna 

      18 months ago

      Can you give me some suggestions? I am a single woman trying to sell my roadtrek now on rvtrader for 6 months dropped price several times and ever single lead is bogus. I lost my 17 year old child and we used it to go on trips. How can I find a legitimate buyer without all the bs. the last one was gonna fly in from Canada not happened and another lowballed me 8 grand thanks

    • profile image

      J Owens 

      19 months ago

      Don, the time you took to air this issue is appreciated! I also have run into this situation and have taken it to near completion before opening my eyes. Sometimes the desire to sell our rig outweighs our good judgement.

    • profile image

      tammy hughes 

      21 months ago

      I've had this done to me from iPads purses and everything else even a Rolex. I figured them out though they are so stupid they use the same name each time

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Ray G - Start with RV Trader and RVT. They are my favorite two. Another one is RV Search, and there are some others but they handle less volumes.

      DON

    • profile image

      Ray G 

      2 years ago

      Ok you kept talking about 3 sites you use to sell your RV. I have a 2017 35 ft travel trailer . Would you be able to tell me those sites ?

    • profile image

      DesertRyder 

      3 years ago

      Lol... I guess I'm the perfect victim. I must look like the perfect victim; scammers gravitate to me. Last year I got scammed by a building contractor who was a FRIEND OF my late son!!! Yesterday I sold our 1999 minni winni to a guy named "Terry" who kept coming around, for years it seems, and asking if we wanted to sell it. I initially said "No" we might use it for a trip this fall. We last used it in Sept 2014 for a trip to TN & OH (from SoCal). He said he had the "money in his pocket." Actually, he left twice to "get money" and was gone a long time both times.

      Terry gave me a sob story about how his home was repo'ed and he and his wife and kid were going to "live in it" until they can get back on their feet. It's only a 22 footer, perfect for two, but not as a permanent home. Well, we decided to sell it and agreed on $4,000. After removing all of our stuff from the rig, during my final walk through I found that someone had stuffed our portable DVD player into a nook where that someone didn't think I would find it. They weren't in the rig when I found it and I simply tucked it away inside my house and didn't say anything. Imagine their surprise when they find it "missing." Maybe the kid did it. After discussing all the problems with the rig (again it needs batteries, roof resealing, probably new engine belts, chassis AC repairs, coach air conditioner repairs, smog & registration, etc.) we agreed on $4,000. As he was counting out the money he stopped at $3.500 and mumbled something about $161 for registration, $200 for a battery, $50 for smog, and all the other "stuff," and no money for food, I simply said "$4,000 is what we agree on...as is." He paid cash with new $100 bills, so unless they are fake, I'm safe there. I did see "Ben" through the hidden part of the bill, but I'll take them to the credit union this PM. However, he gave me a fake name and address for the DMV part. When I questioned it he said that's because she has the insurance. So, that throws the "sob story" out the window (he actually shed a tear or two when he was telling the story). I wonder, am I going to be liable if he is in an accident, or the rig is used to smuggle illegals? Probably... He initially left me a card with his name and phone number on it, but it disappeared from the dining room table after we signed the paperwork. In retrospect, I think Terry is working for a small-time dealer...buy 'em cheap and resells them for a nice little profit. He claimed to not know much about motorhomes, never even drove one, but things he said and did proved otherwise. And Terry isn't the only one with a kid in tow, asking if the motorhome is for sale. It's funny how an eight or nine-year-old can be trained to say the right thing at the right time. The kid said "Is this going to be our home?" and dad responded "We weren't supposed to talk about that." Yeah, right. Although we got the money we wanted, the idea that someone would tell such outrageous lies to "get the deal" is just ridiculous.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      3 years ago from USA

      Are you kidding? Geesh...sometimes I just hate this world we live in! BTW, if they don't respond to a DMCA, contact Google. They have the authority to cut their adsense funding if you can prove you wrote the article first! Good luck!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Timetraveler2- Good points. We are a trusting generation, it seems, and this is what get so many of us in trouble when we are trying to sell or buy something.

      It just seems that there are a number of "specialist" crooks who prey on our world of RVers.

      BTW! You will love this. This very hub has been "stolen" by two different people, and even with a warning, I can't get them to retract their copies. LOL!

      Have a great day,

      DON

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      3 years ago from USA

      There's more, unfortunately. Even if the buyer is "legit", if you do not turn in the proper paperwork to the DMV and the buyer does not register the coach in his name and has an accident...guess who is liable!! If you read my post on selling your RV, you can learn more, but the bottom line is that you have to cover all of the bases BEFORE you let a buyer drive away in your unit. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Leslie 

      4 years ago

      I guess you should never accept to meet at the bank on Saturdays, in the afternoons etc because there would be no way to verify the check at those times. It should be before noon during the week.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Ann Beadel- It sounds like these scammers are becoming more and more brazen. It seems that these people can operate with impunity until someone can set a trap for them. And, you have to wonder how many of us, around the US are being duped without there being any kind of system to warn the rest of us as to what to watch out for.

      That is the reason I wrote this article, to get something out there for my fellow RVers.

      Thanks for the comment,

      DON

    • profile image

      Ann Beadel 

      5 years ago

      We are in the midst of dealing with your "buyer", or at least, his twin brother. One tidbit of information: he sent us a check marked "certified", drawn on some bank in Fredricksburg, Tx. (He purported to be a car dealer in Kansas, by the way.) We deposited the check two days ago, and this morning our bank called and said it was bogus. And btw, our bank said that banks had ceased issuing "certified" checks some ten years ago! He, too, wanted us to wire the inspector's fee via Western Union (another red flag---that can't be traced). Stay tuned for the next exciting episode...

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Thanks for the comment, Ray. And, I am sorry that you were duped by one of these crooks in the past.

      Good luck to you and Yours.

      DON

    • profile image

      Ray 

      5 years ago

      It's the too good to be true syndrome. I have a potential "BUYER" working me exactly the way you described. The only way I would take his money would be CASH and I would take him to my bank and make sure that it wasn't counterfeit. We've been there with our business years ago--the COD Cashier's Check route--lost $20K. Lesson learned. Good Post!!!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Good to hear from you Resspenser. You are right, about how the world of selling has changed. One thing that I did not know, that I got from my banker was the new (relatively?) status of Cashiers checks. 1- Stop payments cannot be made on a Cashiers check. If you get one issued, it cannot be canceled for 90-days. 2- You should always take your Cashier check to your bank, with the buyer, and have your bank check it for validity; a-it is a real bank serial number b-the funds the bank has on record are the same as what are on the check in front of you, I got these little facts from BOA. Thanks again, for the nice comment..

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I bought a bike from a banker in Ky via ebay several years ago. He told me to bring cash as even he couldn't tell if a cashiers check was funny. I have bought and sold several vehicles on ebay or craigslist. Cash is the way to go.

      Good informative hub that may well save someone a heartache or two!

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