How to Avoid Vanlife Scams when you have a Camper Van for Sale

How to avoid vanlife scams when you have a campervan for sale

How to Avoid Vanlife Scams when you have a Camper Van for Sale

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

24 March 2023

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Have you got a camper van for sale or are thinking about how to sell your converted van, but feeling overwhelmed about the possibility of getting taken for a ride? You’re not alone!


Unfortunately, we’ve heard some horror stories from a few folks who have got a camper van for sale and have fallen prey to scams when selling their vans on Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and other vanlife websites. But if you know what to look for, and how to protect yourself, it doesn’t have to be an intimidating process.


In this blog post, we’ll be uncovering a popular ‘cash grab’ scam and we’ll share the common signs of a potential ‘camper van for sale scam’ – so that you can protect yourself when selling your beloved converted van. Read on for some valuable insights on how to avoid falling victim to a vanlife scammer!

Meghan & Matt's Vanlife Scam Experience

We’ve been following Meghan and Matt’s vanlife journey (@meghanandmatt) addictively, and we’re in it for the long term – this couple is on a mission to travel one million miles! Their YouTube channel is definitely one to watch.

Meghan and Matt - a vanlifer couple in side their converted van with cupboards and bed

Okay, let's cut to the scam...

It all began when they decided to sell their Ram camper van.


To achieve their one million-mile travel target, Meghan and Matt have some awesome international trips planned, but their beautiful camper deserves to be lived in, loved, and driven. They advertised their camper van for sale on a popular vanlife website (not Buy or Sell Campers!)


Serious about selling their camper van, these guys did everything right. They even relocated to San Diego to hit the warmer weather and to give their camper the best chance of selling for a good price.


After a few days of “is this still available?” and “have you got a camper van for sale?” time-wasting emails where people email and ghost, a guy reaches out and makes them an offer of $86k almost straight away.


Just under the asking price, this was a strong offer, and the guy – Mark – seemed to know his stuff. He was friendly, joked about being “super legit”, and talked about how he’d been following their journey online. They thought they’d hit vanlife gold and that the camper van for sale sign could be taken down!


So now we have three lead characters:

👩🏾‍💻 Meghan – Vanlifer

🧔🏻‍♂️ Matt – Vanlifer

🦹🏻‍♂️ Mark – Seems legit but is a scam-artist


After several ordinary messages, Mark said he’d come and see the van and complete the sale in 10-14 days. In the meantime, he offered a down payment of $1500 to hold it, and suggested a contract was signed, outlining the intentions.


More comms about the camper van for sale followed, and all seemed super friendly. We’ve seen the messages – genuine, timely, all the good stuff. Mark had sold his last camper van and was ready to get his hands on a new one for his family. He said he was from Nebraska and sent over all his information, including a verifiable address, which Meghan and Matt checked on Google.


Everything was agreed. Mark said that his Financial Manager was mailing a check from Florida, and that they should look out for it.


A few days later, the check was received, and it was mailed from Florida as expected, but the check itself was from a bank in Michigan and was for $3900. Odd. That’s $2,400 more than they had agreed ($1,500), and why was a guy in Nebraska banking in Michigan and managing his money in Florida? 🚩


“No worries” said Mark, when they asked why it was too much. He advised it was an error, and that they should just “cash the check and send him the difference ($2,400)”.


🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩 This is where all the red flags fell into a line and almost flew off their flag poles. Matt called the bank, and they were unable to verify the check by phone. After that, it was a HELL NO. What ensued was probably the best scammer reveal email we’ve ever read:


“Dear Mark, you’re a scammer. I hope that every single time you go to put on your socks in the morning they are slightly damp and that is how it is for the rest of your life, goodbye”.


You can watch Meghan and Matt’s full account of the camper van for sale scam here:

How does this vanlife camper van for sale scam work?

Here’s how it goes: you advertise your camper van for sale, you follow the same steps Meghan and Matt did, but you actually deposit the full check. You send them the difference straight away (because you’re a good person). They cancel the check, and you’re down thousands of dollars.


Matt and Meghan figured out what was happening, and while they didn’t lose any cash, lots of people have. And that sucks.


Furthermore, what Matt and Meghan did lose was time. Having paid for an AirBnB in San Diego, specifically so they could clear out their van and get it sold, they lost this opportunity due to this guy’s time-wasting scammy antics.

Was there any comeuppance for the scam?

In short: No.

This wasn’t the first time he’d done this – Meghan and Matt have since learned that other vanlifers have experienced his antics – and he has been successful.


‘Mark’ tried to scam them out of $2,400 with this camper van for sale scam, but because it didn’t work, the authorities weren’t interested. Nobody actually lost any money, so they didn’t care.

12 Ways to Avoid Scams when you have a Camper Van for Sale

Are you looking to sell your recently converted van or part with your beloved rig to make space for a new adventure? Selling your converted van can be smooth sailing – however, it’s important to stay aware that there are scammers out there who may use this time as an opportunity to take advantage of you.


We’re here today to offer tips on how to avoid falling for a scam when selling your camper van. Taking lessons from Meghan and Matt’s experience, plus some of our own, these are our Buy or Sell Campers top tips:

1. Watch out for emails from guys called "Mark Replogle".

Seriously, this guy had used this name before. There’s nothing to say that he won’t change it (especially since we’re on his tail!) but he may try this again.

2. If it sounds too good to be true...

Everyone appreciates a good bargain, yet if you receive an offer that is far more than the camper van for sale is worth, it is a warning sign.


Sure, the value of something can change depending on who’s willing to pay for it at any given time. However, when something looks too good to be true – it probably is!

3. Reach out to other vanlifers and van builders.

Let’s be a community! Reach out to other vanlifers or van builders if you think something a bit suss is going on when you have a camper van for sale. A quick DM to a few experienced sellers with a copy of any suspicious correspondence could help you find out if you’re being targeted by a prolific van life scammer.

4. Find out as much as you can about your campervan buyer and verify, verify, verify.

Meghan and Matt asked great questions and ‘Mark’ even gave them an address in Nebraska, which seemed to check out on Google. The address was real – a guy called Mark even lives there! But as far as they know, it’s not this Mark.


The buyer’s address is a great place to start, but it’s pretty tough to verify someone’s address. You’d need to ask for a recent utility/tax/credit card bill in their name and to be able to see that it was received at their address. And even this isn’t enough. These can be forged, or a person of that name could live at that address, but who’s to say that you are talking to that person? So you’ll need to partner this with a photo ID (such as a passport or driver’s license) if you want to verify an address.


Our advice? Find out as much as you can about the buyer through conversation, and check it out! Have they had a campervan before? What’s their IG handle? Take a look at their profile, does it all add up with what they have told you? Are there genuine interactions etc on the profile?


Perhaps also mix it up a bit too and switch how you communicate – if they’ve been emailing, send them a message out of the blue on Instagram, and see if they respond.


Can you have a video call? Do they match their IG profile? Use all your best catfishing skills when you have a camper van for sale!

5. Trust your seller instincts

If something doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense. Walk away. The scammer who contacted Meghan and Matt lived in Nebraska, had a ‘money guy’ in Florida, a bank in Michigan, and was buying a van in California. That’s A LOT. You could make a quilt out of all those red flags!

6. Not enough questions

If someone wants to push forward with buying your camper van and asks very few questions, this is another red flag. Let’s face it: buying a camper van is not a small investment. It’s good to ask questions, and you – as a seller – should expect them when you have a camper van for sale. If the buyer is pushing to get to the sale, and it all seems a bit too smooth and too good to be true, it probably is.

7. Too many questions - watch out for "Bait and Switch" camper van for sale scams

This is where a buyer offers to purchase your converted van, then tries to switch the deal once you have agreed to sell. Sure, negotiation is a real thing, but this is different.


Just as someone not asking enough questions can get alarm bells ringing, don’t forget that the same red flags are raised when someone is asking too many questions or exerts unwarranted pressure to reduce the cost after they perceive ‘potential issues’.


Bamboozling sellers with complex questions or complaints about fairly minor issues is a common way of getting them to drop their prices so that the buyer can sell on with hefty profits.


Before letting anyone inspect your camper van for sale, be sure that you have the down-low on any problems and the estimated cost for repairs – also have a bottom line in mind to ensure you don’t sacrifice its value. Know what your camper’s worth and stick to it. You can read more about valuing your camper here: How to Price your Campervan.

8. Insist on meeting in person

If someone is unwilling to meet you in person to see the camper van for sale, or at least on a video call, this may be a sign that they are trying to scam you. When you meet in person, insist on seeing their ID.

9. Be cautious with long-distance buyers

Be wary if someone is willing to purchase your camper van from miles away without checking it out in person. This can be particularly suspicious if the model you are selling is attainable nationwide, making it easier for them to buy it elsewhere.

We all love to think our camper vans are super special, but why yours? Scammers often put distance in the way as a way to avoid face-to-face meetings when there is a camper van for sale.

10. Document it for the 'gram

Get a pic of the handshake with you handing over the van! No chance of the buyer ever saying they didn’t get it.

Two men shaking hands by a yellow camper van for sale
Sean (Buy or Sell Campers Founder) selling his first converted van

11. Take extra photos of your camper van for sale

It’s a good idea to take photos of all aspects of your campervan for sale, both inside and out. This will give you documentation of its condition in case there are any issues with the sale down the road. Take copies of all your service history and documentation before you hand it all over too.

12. Get paid before handing over the keys

Once everything has been agreed upon and all paperwork has been signed, make sure that you receive payment before handing over the keys to the buyer.

It’s important to consider the safest way to get paid for your camper van for sale. Aside from cash (which is unlikely for such a large purchase), there are four safe ways to get paid for your camper:


  • Cashier’s Check – these are a fairly traditional way to accept payment and can only be provided if the buyer has money in their account. As soon as a cashier’s check is provided, the money is deducted from their account. However, these checks can be forged. Unless you actually visited the bank with your buyer and collected the check straight from the cashier, we don’t recommend this.


  • Peer-to-peer money-sharing apps – Apps such as CashApp and Venmo, are great for small transactions. But for large dollar amounts, they’re not so great because they typically have maximum weekly limits which don’t stretch as far as campers! PrivateAuto Pay is worth considering – it’s just as quick and secure as peer-to-peer cash apps, and has a $1 million transfer limit. There is a fee to be paid by the seller (typically <$100), and all identities are verified. This is our preferred option.


  • Bank or Wire Transfers – Another common choice for reducing financial risk is the wire transfer or bank transfer. Bank transfers do not require buyers and sellers to meet in-person, as they are a transaction between two financial institutions. If you opt for this route, you’ll need to share your bank details with the buyer, which can feel unsafe. Before doing this, you should speak with your bank, and understand any steps you can take to verify that the money is in your account and cannot be reversed.

Final thoughts...

Through Meghan and Matt’s experience, it’s easy to see why it’s so important to be aware of scammer methods when you have a camper van for sale.


We’ve gone through 12 strategy-based precautions you can take to avoid getting scammed. While these may not always be foolproof solutions, they go a long way toward protecting your well-earned money and your camper van.


We’ve got to keep sharing stories like this one with each other. Van life has a strong community and, together, we’re able to stay one step ahead of the scammers by simply making sure that we’re all aware of their tactics, especially when you have a camper van for sale.

We want to hear from you!

If you receive any noteworthy ‘red flag’ emails when you have a camper van for sale, please send them our way – either drop us a line at or DM us @buyorsellcampers. We’ll keep this blog updated and will log all the scammer reports we receive here.


Let’s continue helping our van life family by empowering each other with as much knowledge as possible. We want to help you buy and sell campers in the smoothest, safest way possible, so let’s short-circuit these scam artists and make van life a safer place!


If you have a camper van for sale, you can list it here:

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