When it comes time to buy or sell a vintage trailer, consumers have several options to reach 1,000s of people with the Internet and sites like buyvintagetrailers.com. The Internet has also, unfortunately, given scammers a new venue to find uninformed victims. No matter where you are shopping for, or selling a vintage trailer, be warned that you may come in contact with someone that isn't really interested in the hobby but is just trying to scam you out of your hard-earned money.The “Price Too Good to Be True” scamIn this scam, a prospective buyer sees a vintage camper trailer for a price well below market value. When the buyer contacts the seller, he or she is notified that the seller and the trailer is outside of the country and will arrange for shipment of the car upon receipt of payment, most often via wire transfer (such as Western Union) or bank-to-bank transfer (for very large payments). When the money is transferred and collected, the “seller” breaks contact and the buyer is out the money.The overpayment scamA legitimate seller posts a vintage trailer for sale. He or she is then contacted by a prospective “buyer” (really a scammer) who offers to send a cashier’s check immediately plus additional funds to cover shipment of the trailer overseas. When the check arrives, the seller is instructed to deposit it and wire the overage to the “shipper.” When this is done and the wire transfer picked up, the “buyer” breaks contact and the seller is left on the hook to their bank for the fraudulent check and the missing funds. Escrow scamsMany consumers are rightfully wary of sending large amounts of money to someone they’ve never met. Scammer frequently recommend the use of fake “escrow” services that will hold funds involved in the transaction until both parties are satisfied that the transaction has been completed. In a typical scam, a legitimate buyer will be approached by a scammer selling a car or trailer (again, often a vintage trailer or classic car priced, but usually priced well below market value). The scam seller will offer to ship the item and that there is no risk of fraud due to the “escrow” service (purportedly eBay, PayPal, or another service). Once the money is transferred, contact is broken (or sometimes additional funds are requested to cover “unforeseen” events). In any case, the legitimate buyer never receives the vehicle and loses their money.
Identifying a scammer:
- Grammar is poor or generic. "I am contacting you about your item".
- Words are misspelled.
- No phone number.
If you identify a scammer DO NOT REPLY or engage them.How to avoid online-buying scams
- NEVER accept a check, cashier's check, or money order from someone you do not know.
- CASH is preferred. Wire transfer or secure online banking (Venmo or Zelle) may be safe if you are comfortable using them. (have the buyer make a deposit and bring the balance in cash.
- ALWAYS try to deal locally when buying or selling an automobile or other high-value merchandise
- DO NOT sell or buy a trailer from someone who is unable or unwilling to meet you face to face.
- NEVER buy a vintage trailer that you have not seen in real life and had inspected by a trusted friend or someone who knows what they are looking at.
- WAIT until a check (personal, cashier’s, certified, or otherwise) has cleared the bank to transfer title or the trailer. Funds being made available by a bank DOES NOT mean the check is not counterfeit. Clearing a check can take days or weeks depending on the financial institutions involved. Check with your bank about their particular processes for clearing checks.
- NEVER trust a seller or buyer who says that the transaction is GUARANTEED by eBay, Craigslist, PayPal, or another online marketplace. These sites explicitly DO NOT guarantee that people using their services are legitimate.
- BEWARE sellers or buyers who want to conclude a transaction as quickly as possible. Scammers want to get your money before you have time to think or have a professional examine the deal.
- CALL the buyer or seller to establish phone contact. If the buyer or seller seems to neglect details agreed to via e-mail or is unable to answer questions about their location or the location of the automobile in question, it is likely to be a scam.
- ALWAYS trust your gut. If a deal feels “fishy” or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Plenty of people use online classified ads to buy and sell cars every day. The vast majority of these transactions are legitimate and go smoothly. Losing out on a “great” deal in order to work with someone you trust could save you big in avoiding a possible scam.