Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scam Avoided! 17 Days and Then he Played His Cards

It pays off to be cautious. I share this so others may benefit when considering purchasing from a private seller.

We were cautiously optimistic that the 2007 42' QDH Phaeton offer was legitimate...but it was not.
It was a another scam. After about 2 1/2 weeks of intermittent dialogue - the 'seller' showed his true colors.
The tell tale sign was when he wrote, "...the last guy was a no show, so I need you to send me $3,000..."
When I saw that, I knew ---this deal is over---.

Up to that point, there we saw a few 'curious' things and made mental note of them . Still, we hopeful and were willing to be convinced this was an honest deal---until the request for $3,000.

Some of the signs things were not right:
  • Low under market price: $60,000. (old adage is still true: If it is too good to be true, it usually is not true.)
  • In my first email to him I asked, "Why such a low price? Is anything wrong with the rig?"
  • Sellers email address: 'ex am' was the alias for the email address. (It was the first thing I noticed and just thought that was curious.)
  • Hard to get in touch with seller. (He never left me his cell phone number. Most sellers make it easy for you to contact them.)
  • He never wanted to talk--limited email only. (Also said he did not have frequent access to email so he could not get back to me often.)
  • He indicated was in the military and worked 80 hrs/week and stationed at Scott AFB, IL. (That would be 7 days a week and 11 plus hours per day. Not impossible---just unlikely.)
  • Seller also indicated: 'I am not allowed to leave the base except for good reason'. ? (Why? In jail? Under surveillance? - sounded fishy.)
  • I came across the same set of photos of the RV elsewhere on the an RV dealer site. (This was a pink flag...and the beginning of the end when I first thought this may be a fraud.)
  • His second email used the phrase, " have my word that I will try to make things work out between us..."
  • His last email to me 17 days after the first one was about where to send the $3,000. He again used the phase, "you have my word". (Why would he say 'you have my word'? It reminded me when someone says, 'it's not about the money' because if they say that it is usually about the money.)
  • I asked for the VIN number so I could get RV insurance. He said he did not have that but could get it to me the day he flew back to Old Bridge PA where the RV was supposed to be.
  • He indicated the tags were current on it and it was also insured, so he could leave the tags on it for me to drive it home, and title in my name, then mail him back the plates. (Most sounded ok except the insurance part; I would not trust that his insurance covered me...I would still get my own).
  • He indicated, 'If you are flying in, let me know the flight number and I can pick you up'. Three times he wrote that and three times I emailed back that we would be driving to Old Bridge.
  • The coup de grace. Three long, detailed instructions of how to send $3,000 to him. More details there than in the previous emails on the rig. (Huh--wow, I hope on one else has fallen for this...)
I wanted to write this as a 'heads up' and solicit anyone with similar experiences so the word gets out.
Since this is getting a little lengthy I will end it here. Next time maybe I will go through some of our thinking (in spite of these indicators) that allowed us to stay in this so long.


  1. My cousin had this happen with a wedding dress on Craigs List. Weirdos.

  2. WOW - sorry it did not work out, but glad you figured it out before it cost you anything other than time. We spent part of yesterday at an RV show, just makes us want to get going even more. Good luck.

  3. Randy...good for you. They are out there buddy! You have to be on your guard all the time. You need to be looking at some of the dealers all over..there are a lot of good deals out there now with the economy in the shape that it is. I got Sherri her dream trailer for a song after a little hedging...these guys were getting desperate right before the new year. They have to pay taxes on these dead units they have setting on their lots...I got lucky and got a good deal....Wife is real happy...and you know when the wife is happy we are all happy...LOL


  4. I know this is an old post but I wanted to leave a suggestion for people, like me, who might stumble across this post when wondering about these low-priced RVs.

    I've been looking for a used rig and found good prices, but today came across rvclassified and saw some apparently amazing deals. Naturally they raised my suspicion, like a 2004 Newmar diesel pusher for $30,000. What I did was do a reverse image search for some of the pictures of the rig and its interior that were in the ad. The first, of the coach outside, came up with nothing, but one of the interior pictures came up with several results. One was for an ad in a local site in Pennsylvania (the coach was supposedly in Washington, and the seller's phone number was 213 area code, which is So. California, another red flag). The other was for a real ad for the coach in question, sold on ebay for $100,000. (All the pictures on the first ad were there so it was certainly the source for the ad I saw.)

    The usual reverse image search engine has been TinEye, but it's been overtaken by Google's new reverse image search, which right now is just starting. That's what I used. A good first step to try when you find one of these too good to be true (but hope springs eternal) ads.