How to avoid a caravan scam
The advent of the internet has made it easier for buyers and sellers of caravans to be put in touch with each other. Unfortunately, the anonymity that the online world affords means that some unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the situation and attempting to con people.
A quick search over the Web will take you to a number of sites that give details of the type of scams to watch out for.
Typical scams include:
- An advertisement for a top of the range caravan at a bargain price looks which looks too good to refuse. When the potential buyer e-mails or calls the seller they are told the item has generated a lot of interest and that to secure the caravan they must pay a deposit. It’s only later the buyer finds out there in no caravan.
- The seller of a caravan claims to be abroad and unable to meet the buyer but requests the buyer uses a middle-man service. The buyer receive a convincing-looking invoice and pays for a caravan that does not exist.
The Caravan Club has been quick to stress that no websites that buy and sell caravans offer a middleman service and that if you are asked to do so - you should refuse and have no dealings with that site again.
Some sites even post e-mail addresses of suspected scammers, which might be worth checking before you enter into any transaction.
The Autotrader website offers some excellent tips on avoiding fraudulent buyers and sellers
Advice on avoiding fraudulent sellers includes:
- Never wire money abroad or pay a large deposit.
- If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Never buy a caravan without seeing it first.
Advice on avoiding fraudulent buyers includes:
- Be wary of poorly written e-mails or people who refuse to speak to you and will only contact you via text or e-mail.
- Don't hand over your caravan until you're satisfied the funds are in your account.
- Don't be pressured into releasing your caravan
Another area to watch out for is being offered a stolen caravan to buy. Insurance group Lifesure offers some helpful advice in this regard.
Advice on recognising a stolen caravan includes:
- A damaged Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) number or none at all.
- Damage to the caravan towing hitch or wheel.
- Lack of original documentation or unwillingness to provide a receipt.
- A description that doesn’t match with the photos and the seller’s story.
- A seller who is does not want to meet you at their home.