An RV Buying Scam: A Warning for Motorhome Owners Who Want to Sell
An UPDATE! This scam is happening more and more often.
I wrote this article a few years ago, but I must tell you, my readers that you should be careful if you try to sell your motorhome on your own. There are still a number of crooks out there who are still trying to hook the unawate motorhome owner with this scam. I get at least one reader a month on my blog as well as here on HP that tell me about their own experiences.
So please, read on!
I Really Wanted to Sell My Motorhome
My RV is for sale. We have a big rig. A very nice, 42-foot, 4-slide Monaco Camelot, loaded with luxury options.
I'm not getting out of the RV lifestyle; rather, I am trying to move down in the size of my RV. In early spring we had started out on a one- to five-year dream trip around the country.
But 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 couldn't, physically, do all those things required to be a full-timer, at least not like we used to. After almost a year we finally accepted that we just could not travel full time.
And the next obvious realization was that we didn't need such a large and elaborate motorhome if we were going to drop back to shorter trips, in distance as well as in time on the road.
It Is a "Buy Bigger and Newer" Industry
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 in size as we wanted to do.
They call it "Trading Up!"
I talked with dealers as we traveled across the country over the past year from California to Florida, and each and every one of them wanted to "steal" my motorhome from me.
If you say you want to trade down, or OMG outright sell your rig, it is shocking how far they want to discount their offer on a motorhome. It really chills their enthusiasm if you stand your ground and refuse to consider a "trade-up."
My2006 Fleetwood Bounder
I Encountered the RV "Selling Buzzards"
After a lot of research and conversations with old-timer RVers, I came up with a selling plan, and the first step was advertising.
Because the market for RVs is a lot smaller and more specialized than the automobile market, you need to present your rig or camper on the web or in magazines in the most favorable light to capture the interest of this limited range of potential buyers.
I listed my rig 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 will all guarantee you that;
- They are the best RV sellers in the country.
- They will sell your RV at the highest price of anyone else.
- They will sell your RV faster than anyone else.
- And they guarantee everything, yadaa, yadaa, yadaa.
These selling buzzards out there scan the websites that have your RV for sale, and send you emails with their grandiose offers of financial relief.
I call them that because, just like the real respectable buzzards in the world, they circle perceived roadkill for a while before they decide to land and feast on the carcass. "Just trust us," they say.
And, if, in a moment of weakness, you respond, they pounce on you and start their sales pitch.
It will go something like this:
- Your rig will be listed on over a gazillion sites, nationwide. The 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.
- Your rig will be listed in the top 15 or 20 RV magazines in the country. The reality? They will have ads for themselves in those magazines, with no direct listing of your rig.
- They guarantee your RV sells, in 60, 90, 180, etc. days, or your money is refunded. The reality? Yeah, sure, just try to get your money back from them.
- 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 listed my rig on eBay.
These three sites gave 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 come close to a real sale.
Oh, I get interested people, but there has been no closure so far.
I Was Contacted By a "Buyer" With a Scam
When you put your contact information out there, to try to find that real buyer out there who is going to make you a reasonable offer he can afford, you need to sift through a lot of responses from dreamers, low-ball offers, bored talkers who don't really want to buy, and other strange personalities.
During this sifting process, I received an email from a person in Kentucky.
He said that he was an automobile procurer for other people. He said 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.
At this point that he sent me some stipulations that he and his buyer had. They were:
- They wanted me to accept an earnest fee of $500.
- They would find an Inspector to check the rig out professionally.
- They would arrive at my site and inspect and test-drive my rig.
- 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 tried to get these four steps clarified.
- I accepted the $500 earnest money but for only a two-week period. That was OK with them.
- An inspector was okay with me because a seller has to accept an inspection of his or her rig.
- It was okay for them to come test-drive my rig, because any buyer would do a test drive before closing on a sale of this size.
- This request for a "bank check" drove me back to my bank. A bank manager told me that if the buyer paid by cashier's check, he would contact the other bank to confirm that the cashier's check was valid, that the other bank had issued a check with this serial number, and that the check was backed by funds.
I told the buyers this and they accepted the bank's requirements for the closing of the deal. So I started to get more confident that I might actually have a buyer for my rig.
Then the prospective buyer sent me another, more detailed description of how they required their first check to be handled.
This was Warning Sign #2: they said the bank check they would send me for my earnest money would also include the payment to the vehicle Inspector that they selected, and I would have to cash this check and pay the inspector within three days of receiving the check.
THIS was the actual SCAM!
I told them that my banker had told me that any check could take up to a total of ten days to be processed by two different banks.
Also, I told them that the normal procedure was for the potential buyer to select their own inspector and pay him themselves, 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 three days.
I firmly replied that I had to follow the directions of my bank, and that they could either bring cash, or I would require the ten-day processing time my bank told me about.
And, guess what? All communications stopped.
How Would the Scam Have Worked?
They never intended to buy my motorhome. Rather, they wanted me to cash this first check for the earnest payment and the "inspector's payment" and then hand over the Inspector's fee to someone they designated.
To finish the scam, they would disappear before the three days were up, and then four to ten days later, I would get a call from my bank saying the check was rubber, and that I was responsible for paying the bank back for my earnest money as well as the inspector's 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. I can store it for a while, and when I visit relatives and friends, I can pull up in style in my big rig that I don't need!
And, I have learned yet another way a man can take advantage of his fellow man and drive him to trust no one but himself.
How to Inspect Your RV for Water Damage
Keeping Bugs out of your Camper
How to Winterize Your Camper
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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.Helpful 51
We were looking into selling our RV on consignment through CampingWorld and have been trying to understand and verify the insurance related issues regarding coverage. Progressive initially told us that our vehicle would not be covered but after a long conversation they confirmed that we would be. When we asked for this in writing they said they could not provide. Any thoughts?
If you have insurance with any Insurance company, you have a right to a copy of your coverages, including any details.
If this information is not in your policy then request a new copy of your policy. They are obligated to provide you with what is covered.Helpful 12
Will an RV dealership, like PPL buy your RV outright? Without trading up or down?
I am not familiar with PPL?
But, many RV Dealers will purchase your RV outright, but at a high cost to the owner.
Sad to say, they offer far below what is called "Wholesale" for an RV.
Most people who have experienced being in this position are shocked by their "low-ball" offering, but far too often, personal circumstances force them into accepting such an offer.
I recommend that, if you have the time, at least try to use a Consignment RV dealer.Helpful 8
Did you ask your bank or insurance agent the value of your RV before listing?
No, I relied on the NADA values I found on their site on the web.Helpful 6