Avoiding Facebook Marketplace Camper Van Scams: 8 Safety Tips

Woman with laptop experiencing camper van scams

Avoiding Facebook Marketplace Camper Van Scams: 8 Safety Tips

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

29 August 2023

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Buying a camper van? By following these eight safety tips, you’ll be better prepared to avoid camper van scams on Facebook Marketplace.

What Are Camper Van Scams?

Embarking on the van life journey is a thrilling adventure, where open roads and endless horizons beckon. However, in the digital age, even this exciting pursuit is not immune to potential pitfalls.

Whether you’re a buyer searching for the perfect camper van or a seller, Facebook’s “Marketplace” offers a convenient platform. So convenient that, according to credit card company Capital One, more than a billion shoppers browse the site each month1.

But with convenience comes caution. Because literally no checks are done to verify a user or a listing, Facebook’s “Marketplace” has become the hunting ground for scammers, and camper van scams are rife.

Camper van scams come in various shades, from phantom listings – listings for vans that aren’t even for sale – to overly enticing deals that raise eyebrows. For the purpose of this guide, the definition of a camper van scam is:
(a) Any situation, involving buying or selling a campervan, and
(b) A party did not get what they expected or paid for.

We’ll look at the types of camper van scams in more detail, too.

Phone and laptop

Table of Contents

In this guide to camper van scams, we’re going to give you the essential knowledge to navigate Facebook’s “Marketplace” with confidence.

We’ll train you in the art of recognizing and avoiding camper van scams, ensuring that your van life aspirations remain secure and free from deceitful schemes.

By following these eight safety tips, you’ll be better prepared to safeguard your investment, protect your personal information, and make informed decisions that propel you toward your dream of hitting the road in your very own camper van. The open road awaits – let’s ensure your journey is as safe as it is exhilarating! 🌄🚐

8 Tips To Avoid Camper Van Scams

1. Recognize the Risks 🕵️‍♂️

Facebook Marketplace’s convenience attracts eager buyers and sellers alike. Yet, this ease of access also appeals to scammers, who exploit the platform’s vast user base to execute their deceitful schemes. Before you even start looking at camper vans for sale, you need to know what types of camper van scams are out there, so you can look out for them.

Types of Camper Van Scams 

Camper van scams come in various shades, from phantom listings to overly enticing deals that raise eyebrows. Be familiar with the different tactics scammers employ, including false identities, misrepresented vehicles, and even phishing attempts. You need to stay prepared to navigate the juxtaposition between opportunity and risk.

It’s annoying to say, but there are a whole load of scam-styles out there, and they are increasingly becoming more and more complex, and more difficult to spot. Here are a few examples of some classic van life scams that can occur when you are looking at converted vans for sale, or when selling a camper van:

Phantom Listings

Phantom Listings are when scammers create enticing online listings for camper vans that don’t actually exist. They may use stolen photos and descriptions to lure you into sending money for a van you will never receive.

Title Washing

In this scam, sellers manipulate the van’s title to hide its true history, such as previous accidents or flood damage. They may present a clean title while concealing important information, leaving the you with a van that has hidden issues.

Non-Delivery Scams

Fraudsters posing as sellers will request full payment upfront but fail to deliver the van as promised. They ghost you after receiving the payment, leaving you without the camper van and your hard-earned money.

Overpayment Scams

This is one for you to watch out for when selling a campervan.

Scammers may contact you and express interest in purchasing you van. They send a fraudulent payment (usually a cheque) that exceeds the agreed-upon price and then request a refund for the excess amount. The initial payment turns out to be fake, and the seller loses both the van and the refund they provided.

💰 If you’re selling a camper van and concerned about scams, we’ve got more advice here: How to Avoid Vanlife Scams when you have a Camper Van for Sale. Or, you can read Meghan and Matt’s real life camper can scam story.

Fake Escrow Services

Fraudsters may claim to use an escrow service to facilitate the transaction, assuring both the buyer and the seller of a secure transaction. However, the escrow service is fake, and once the payment is made, the scammer vanishes with the funds.

It’s important to stay vigilant and conduct thorough research when buying a camper van to avoid falling victim to these scams.

Guarantee Scam

Some sellers may promise a guarantee from a third-party money-transfer service like PayPal or Venmo. It is almost certainly a lie, as third parties don’t want to get involved with guaranteeing used cars.

2. Research and Due Diligence 📚

Thoroughly Investigate Sellers 

Vetting sellers is the first line of defense against potential scams. Dive into their profiles, assess their history of transactions, and scrutinize reviews from previous buyers. An authentic, trustworthy seller is more likely to have a solid reputation.

Scrutinizing Camper Van Listings 

Carefully examine every detail of the camper van listings. Look for inconsistencies, blurred images, and oddly phrased descriptions. Multiple identical listings may indicate trouble. Being meticulous in your evaluation can help uncover telltale signs of fraudulent listings.

3. Safety Measures for Communication 📱

Utilizing Secure Communication Channels 

When communicating with potential buyers or sellers, stick to Facebook’s messaging system. This safeguards your personal information and conversations from prying eyes, adding an extra layer of security.

Beware of Unusual Requests 

Scammers often try to divert transactions away from the platform’s secure environment. Be cautious of requests for unconventional payment methods or immediate wire transfers. A genuine seller will prioritize your safety and abide by standard transaction practices.


4. Meeting In-Person Safely 🤝

Choosing Safe Meeting Locations

Opt for meeting in well-lit public spaces to conduct in-person exchanges. Areas with high foot traffic reduce the risk of encountering dangerous situations and provide an added layer of security.

Bringing a Trusted Companion 

Don’t venture into in-person meetings alone. Bring along a trusted friend or family member who can offer a second perspective and provide additional protection. Together, you can navigate the meeting with confidence.

5. Verifying the Camper Van’s Condition 🧐

Requesting Detailed Information 

Before sealing the deal, gather comprehensive information about the camper van’s condition. Inquire about maintenance history, mileage, and any past repairs. A genuine seller will readily provide these details, whereas a scammer might be evasive.

📚 READ MORE: 7 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Buying a Camper Van and Buying a Campervan? Ask These Key Questions for a Smooth Ride

Conducting Virtual Tours 

Leverage technology by requesting a virtual tour of the camper van through video calls. This allows you to inspect the vehicle in real-time, asking for close-ups of specific areas and components. Virtual tours help unveil any hidden flaws and contribute to a more transparent transaction.

6. Secure Payment Practices 💰

Choosing Secure Payment Methods 

Protect your investment by opting for secure payment methods. Bank transfers, escrow services, and secure online payment platforms offer traceable transactions, minimizing the risk of your funds disappearing into the abyss.

Safest Methods for Transferring Money During the Transaction

Prioritize methods that offer buyer protection, such as using platforms that mediate transactions until both parties are satisfied. These systems ensure that your funds are safe until you confirm the camper van’s condition aligns with the seller’s claims.

Avoiding Cash Transactions and Opting for Traceable Methods 

Cash transactions provide scammers with an opportunity to disappear without a trace. Choose traceable methods that leave a paper trail, making it easier to resolve disputes and track funds if anything goes awry.

7. Trusting Your Instincts 🤔

Listening to Gut Feelings 

Your instincts are a powerful tool when it comes to avoiding scams. If something feels off or doesn’t sit right, pay attention to that inner voice. It’s often your subconscious picking up on subtle cues that your conscious mind might miss.

Trusting Your Intuition When Something Seems Too Good to Be True

Scammers often dangle irresistible deals that seem too good to pass up. If a camper van listing appears far more enticing than others, take a step back. Trust your intuition and exercise caution before diving into a potentially fraudulent arrangement.

Walking Away from Deals That Make You Uncomfortable

If a deal raises doubts or discomfort, don’t hesitate to walk away. Your safety and peace of mind are paramount. A legitimate seller will understand your concerns and provide the necessary reassurances, while a scammer might pressure you to proceed against your better judgment.

8. Search Beyond Facebook Marketplace

🔒 Explore Verified Platforms

When it comes to buying or selling campers, opting for platforms like Buy or Sell Campers offers distinct advantages over using Facebook Marketplace.

With Buy or Sell Campers, you can enjoy a dedicated space tailored to the RV and camper community, fostering a more secure and specialized environment for transactions.

Unlike the broader reach of Facebook Marketplace, our niche platform attracts genuine enthusiasts and serious buyers/sellers, reducing the risk of scams and fraudulent activities. Additionally, here at Buy or Sell Campers we implement stricter verification measures and care about safe trading practices. We want buyers and sellers to feel confident throughout the buying and selling process.

Man on top of a campervan

📝 Summary

Embarking on the van life adventure is an exhilarating journey that promises freedom, exploration, and a connection to the open road. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a newcomer to the world of camper vans, Facebook Marketplace offers a platform where dreams can take shape. However, in the digital landscape, the promise of adventure is juxtaposed with the lurking presence of scams and deceitful schemes.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve delved into the intricate realm of avoiding Facebook Marketplace camper van scams. We’ve armed you with eight essential safety tips that serve as a beacon of caution, guiding you through the potential pitfalls and ensuring your path remains illuminated by knowledge and vigilance.

Recognizing the risks inherent in the virtual marketplace is the first step. Understanding the multifaceted nature of camper van scams, from false identities to too-good-to-be-true deals, empowers you to spot red flags from a mile away. The allure of Facebook Marketplace’s convenience is undeniable, but it’s essential to recognize that its vast user base can attract scammers eager to exploit eager buyers and sellers.

As you delve deeper into the camper van journey, diligent research and due diligence become your allies. Investigating sellers thoroughly, scrutinizing listings for inconsistencies, and prioritizing secure communication channels create a foundation of safety that sets you on the right path.

Meeting in person for transactions brings another layer of potential risk, but with the right precautions, it can be a secure process. Opting for safe meeting locations and bringing along a trusted companion not only enhances your safety but also offers peace of mind throughout the transaction.

Verifying the camper van’s condition requires a discerning eye. Requesting detailed information and conducting virtual tours through video calls enable you to inspect the vehicle closely, mitigating the risk of hidden flaws and misrepresented details.

When it comes to payments, selecting secure methods is paramount. Choose traceable and secure payment options that safeguard your investment, leaving no room for scams to abscond with your funds.

Finally, trusting your instincts becomes the ultimate tool in your arsenal. If a deal seems too good to be true or sets off alarm bells, it’s perfectly valid to walk away. Your safety and security are non-negotiable.

In summary, your van life journey should be defined by the thrill of adventure, not marred by scams and deception. By incorporating these eight safety tips into your camper van pursuit, you’re not only protecting your investment but also ensuring that every step you take on the open road is one filled with authenticity, excitement, and the promise of unforgettable memories. As you set forth on your van life expedition, armed with knowledge and caution, may your journey be as safe as it is spectacular. 🚐🌟

📚 Key Takeaways

  • Be Aware of Scam Tactics: Familiarize yourself with common camper van scam tactics, such as false identities, phantom listings, and overly enticing deals. Recognizing these warning signs is the first step to safeguarding your transaction.
  • Research Sellers Thoroughly: Investigate the seller’s profile, transaction history, and reviews from previous buyers. A trustworthy seller will have a solid reputation, providing you with more confidence in the transaction.
  • Stay Secure in Communication: Utilize Facebook’s messaging system to communicate with buyers or sellers. Avoid sharing personal information through insecure channels and be cautious of unusual payment requests.
  • Prioritize In-Person Safety: Choose well-lit and public locations for in-person meetings. Bringing a trusted companion along enhances your safety and provides an extra layer of protection.
  • Verify Camper Van Details: Request comprehensive information about the camper van’s condition, including maintenance history and mileage. Conduct virtual tours through video calls to inspect the vehicle closely.

❓ FAQs 

Are all camper van listings on Facebook Marketplace potentially scams?

Not all listings are scams, but it’s essential to exercise caution and follow safety measures to avoid falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

What should I do if a seller avoids meeting in person?

If a seller is hesitant to meet in person, it’s a red flag. Insist on a physical meeting and prioritize your safety.

Can I trust official-looking documents shared by the seller?

Be cautious and verify any documents provided. Scammers can create convincing-looking documents to deceive buyers.

What’s the safest way to make a payment for a camper van?

Opt for secure payment methods such as bank transfers or platforms with buyer protection. Avoid cash transactions.

Is it advisable to buy camper van parts or accessories through Facebook Marketplace?

While parts and accessories can be legitimate purchases, apply the same safety measures and scrutiny to avoid potential scams.

For more information, check out Facebook’s official guidelines for staying safe while using Facebook Marketplace, so you can avoid scams.


  1. Facebook Marketplace Statistics, Capital One Shopping Research ↩︎

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