I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Monday, June 13, 2011


So I received several emails and a few posts on FaceBook from friends concerned that the deal on the motor home I wrote about yesterday could be a scam.   Let me say that the thought did not originate in my mind with these expressed concerns.  I didn't fall off of the cabbage truck yesterday but I do tend to be more trusting than most people.  However, I tend to research something until the information starts to repeat itself and this was no different.

I started out by checking eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection; the way the seller wished to handle the transaction. It looked pretty iron-clad as far as protecting me from fraud. I then called a friend who had purchased a Land Rover from eBay using this method of payment. He said that, if the vehicle wasn't being sold on eBay (it wasn't, it was Craigslist) then the seller would start a private auction, once I had decided to purchase, and I would buy it on eBay at the 'buy now' price. Then eBay would contact me and I would place the funds with them in escrow until the vehicle arrived and I had 5 days to inspect it. Other than my friend finding his Land Rover on eBay initially, this was exactly how it worked for him and it worked well. Reassured, I felt I could move on with securing financing from my bank today.

I also had Googled the title of the ad on Craigslist to see what would come up. It turned up three more identical ads in PEI, Edmonton, and Richmond BC (the one I was replying to was Vancouver, BC). When I checked the ads, the one in Edmonton had been flagged for removal. This did not give me a huge concern as Craigslist does not allow multiple posts in different cities for the same item. But I filed it away in my mind as something to remember.

Another friend from work offered to find someone who lived in Yellowknife, where the rig is, and have them go take a look at it and make sure it was legit. I took him up on it and he posted to his FB page asking if anyone knew anyone who lived there and I did the same thing.

This morning I was about to put together my proposal to the bank and was checking emails to see if the seller had replied to my request for a VIN# and the name and address of the shipper in the Yukon who has possession of the RV. There was no reply as of yet (they are in London, England) but there was a message from a good friend of mine. She wrote to say to be very careful as the deal sounded too good to be true (which was my biggest concern thus far) and that they had nearly been scammed in a similar deal last week. She urged me to Google 'car selling scams', something I had not thought to do. I did and the first site on the list had all a list of typical scams and the first one I clicked on was almost exactly what I was experiencing. Here's a list:

The seller is almost always from London, England. Check.
They will want to use eBay Protection. Check.
They will have some excuse as to why they don't want the vehicle where they live now. Check.

The first experience listed also stated that huge red flags for her was when, once they had agreed to buy the vehicle, the letter from eBay was full of spelling mistakes AND they required the payment be sent through Western Union only.

Had my dealings with this RV gotten that far, they would have stopped right there. I have an active eBay account and have received several emails from 'eBay' over the years claiming various things that all required me to visit the site - link kindly provided in the email - and sign in to verify this or that. Every time I have sent the email straight to eBay's spoof department. As for sending the payment through Western Union, I would NEVER EVER EVER use Western Union to send money in a transaction of this sort. The money would be wired from my bank or they could forget it. Like I said, I didn't fall off the cabbage truck yesterday.

So I would have discovered that this was fraud eventually, but it is really great to have done so before it got that far.

As for advice I received to get the VIN# and then run it through CarFax:
quote from the website I found: Anybody can get a VIN and pictures of a legitimate car off of any number of websites, like AutoTrader.com or even eBay. CarFax does not show the owners name, and they know this. The vehicle will show to be free and clear of any loans or liens and they know this too as they will have checked already.

Lastly, this morning I tried something I attempted to do yesterday but couldn't figure out - I clicked on the little down arrow beside 'reply' on the header of one of the emails from the seller in Google Mail. This opens a drop-down menu that gives me several options. I selected 'show original' and a page of details showing the path the email took to get to me opened up. In there I found the originating ISP# on this line:
Authentication-Results: mr.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: domain of chandelle.kies63@gmail.com designates as permitted sender) - *I put the ISP in bold.

I then typed: Who is into Google search and up came a map of a range of ISP's including that one and their place of origin; off of the coast of AFRICA, not London England as the sender claimed.

So it pays to do your research and I hope this helps anyone who might be considering an internet deal that seems too good to be true because it really is true that if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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