Avoid Scams When You’re Buying a Camper Van on Craigslist

There are several reasons that buying a camper van on Craigslist makes sense. Finding a custom product with lots of aftermarket additions from a passionate and knowledgeable owner is every Craigslist camper van buyer’s dream. But not everyone on Craigslist is on the up and up, so we have some tips to avoid scams when you’re buying a camper van on Craigslist.

a black Mercedes Sprinter camper van driving off-road
A converted Sprinter campervan | Josh Brasted/Getty Images

How to Avoid Craigslist scams if you’re shopping for a camper online

There is no surefire way to always know what you are getting, whether shopping on Craigslist or at a dealership. However, there are some tips that we can give you in order to avoid online scams. The internet is a constant and dynamic entity in most of our lives at this point. 

Unfortunately, some people choose to use platforms like Craigslist to post fake ads or potentially take thousands of hard-earned dollars in scam ads. In fact, Van Sage also gives us some intel on Craigslist scams and refers to Craigslist’s own document on various ways we can protect ourselves from potential scams and traps while shopping for a camper van or trailer RV to pull with your SUV or pickup truck

Are there good camper vans for sale on Craigslist?

a motorhome camper parked near a stunning mountain view
Camper van | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Yes, there are definitely good camper vans on Craigslist. For some, buying a camper van on Craigslist might be their very first purchase from the platform. However, there are many of us who have bought and sold goods on Craigslist for quite a while now.

It’s a great place to go for buyers that want to find a deal, search for used/secondhand products, and unique listings. As far as camper van or RV buying goes, Craigslist ads for these vehicles are increasingly popular due to the fluctuations in demand for RVs. 

Most Craigslists sellers and buyers have exchanged money for stuff countless times without so much as a hiccup. Overall, users report that buying items listed on Craigslist is a good experience. The platform remains a leading place for buyers and sellers to go for a variety of goods and services. 

Even a little bit of awareness and caution can present financial disaster due to a shady scam. Common sense as well as experience are both available tools that should be used when anyone approaches a buying or selling situation on the Craigslist platform. 

Putting an ad on Craigslist

There are some pretty common maneuvers that shady sellers may use to get the highest dollar amount out of a sale. One thing to remember is that the vast majority of Craigslist ads are created by people that aren’t ad or marketing professionals. Pictures aren’t generally professional grade. 

For someone perusing Craigslist ads for a good camper, a carefully-considered list of questions and concerns can be addressed in the process of finding the right camper van on Craigslist. 

There’s a wide range of Craigslist personalities. Some ads will take us on a pristine and detailed tour. Other sellers are more wary, keeping photos and information a secret, revealing details only to serious shoppers willing to make a phone call or send an email. 

“Whether you’re shopping for an eighteen thousand dollar Sprinter van or a seventeen hundred dollar Sienna, it’s important to know how to read ads on the site.” 

Van Sage

Important red flags to to watch out for when buying a camper van on Craigslist

a motorhome at sunset
A camper van motorhome | Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Each ad on Craigslist is different. Virtually every seller has their own strategy for posting ads. That said, there are some things to watch out for. If you are thinking about buying a van using the Craigslist platform, there are some red flags that can potentially warn prospective buyers away from scams and shady deals. 

First off, the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is” exists for a reason. If a deal seems way too good, that’s a red flag. Craigslist camper van shoppers may come across great deals.

Amazing finds are certainly there for potential buyers to stumble upon. However, things like odometer fraud remain an issue. If a $50,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van is priced at $10,000 there’s likely something wrong with it. 

Inviting a professional mechanic to check things out can help weed out such problems. Also, never underestimate the power of checking the VIN and asking for paperwork that shows maintenance and repair history. 

Camper van scams

It’s important to ask questions via phone or email. In addition, a tes drive is never asking too much. If a buyer seems like they aren’t forthcoming with answers to your questions or requests for a test drive, that’s not a good sign. There are good campers on Craigslist, but it pays to use caution. 

One of the most important tips to avoid scams when you’re buying a camper van on Craigslist is not to wire money before you have a tangible product on the receiving end. There shouldn’t be any reason why a seller can’t meet you for an exchange. If a Craigslist seller won’t meet up and seems even remotely pushy about having you wire money then it’s likely a scam. 

In general, buying a trailer, RV, or camper van on Craigslist can prove itself a rewarding endeavor. However, review each ad for red flags and get thorough information before making any final decisions. It’s possible to avoid scams if you know what to look out for.

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