Trying to buy a caravan - is this a scam?

We need to purchase a caravan pronto as we are selling our house and our new home is still a chantier. We found a great sounding caravan on but we have a number of concerns:

Firstly it is very cheap for what it is - other caravans of this age / make / size are usually more than twice this price. Also the owner tells us she is abroad (not returning to France until December) and did not have time to sell the caravan before she left. She has put it with a livreur who will, apparently, deliver it free of charge to any part of France. Interestingly he will deliver to a Prefecture or police station but she is insisting that he must be paid in cash. It sounds like all the paper work is in order - carte grise, purchase invoice with a copy of her passport, certificat de cessation.

Why are we suspicious?

It is advertised in 2 different parts of France - north and south... is this normal?

It is too cheap

We do not seem to be able to view it before buying only on the day of delivery (at a poste de police of our choice!)

Does anyone have any advice?

Here is the exact email I received:

Bonjour à vous,

Merci d'avoir répondu à la vente de Ma Caravane Hobby qui est toujours d'actualité.Elle n'a aucun frais à prévoir avec une facture à l'appui ayant les papiers tels-que la carte grise de la Caravane Hobby, le certificat de cession, une convention de vente qui a été pré-signée par moi même et une photocopie de mon passeport.La Caravane Hobby est mise en vente à un prix cadeau de ....€. Le paiement se feras en liquide donc vous devez avoir la liquidité sur vous.Je vous laisse ses caractéristiques et ses photos pour apprécier son état

PS: Pour ma part,à peine dans ma retraite en Février dernier, je viens de rejoindre mon marie en Fonction d'état a l’étranger .Nous reviendrons en France qu'en Décembre 2013 date de fin de sa fonction (RETRAITE) et c'est la raison pour laquelle la Caravane hobby à été mise en vente. Vue que nous n'avions plus eu d'assez de temps pour la vente nous avons dû confier la Caravane hobby à un livreur particulier de profession et qui s'effectue des livraisons dans toutes les régions de la France , il se chargera de vous la livrer à n'importe quel endroit que vous le vouliez,vous n'aurez aucun frais à prévoir pour les frais de transport, nous avons tous réglé avant notre départ, nous lui avons laissé la Caravane hobby ainsi que l'acte de vente que j'ai déjà pré-établi plus une copie de ma pièce d'identité et le reste des documents ( carte grise, carnet d'entretient, facture d'achat etc,........) que vous allez contrôler le jour de la livraison à la préfecture ou dans un poste de police, tous les papiers sont bien à jour et en ordre.
Si vous désirez une livraison, veuillez bien vouloir laisser vos coordonnées comme suit:

ADRESSE DE LIVRAISON....................................
CODE POSTAL.....................................................
TÉLÉPHONE FIXE:....................................................
TÉLÉPHONE PORTABLE...........................................

Mais par contre si vous avez déjà la liquidité,il peut passer vous livrez dès demain si vous en voulez compte tenue de notre absence.
NB: Vous êtes libres de refuser l'achat si à la livraison vous découvrez un défaut quelconque. Je vous rassures que vous n'aurez rien à payer comme frais.

En attente de vos coordonnées si vous êtes preneur de notre Caravane hobby

There are a lot of these type of scams about and they work both ways, i.e. buying or selling. We are trying to sell our caravan, UK model but registered in France. We've had several "interested" people who are currently out of the country, but have an agent who would be able to collect it. So sight unseen, full asking price (€10,000), what could possibly be a problem?

The problem is that they want to pay for it using Paypal. What many people who regularly use Paypal aren't aware of is the fact that if a purchaser complains that the item was defective, not as described, or several other reasons, Paypal will refund them the cost. They then will try to recover the cost from the seller. So you have no caravan, no money, and Paypal threatening court action for €10,000. Not a happy situation.

As so many others have said "If it sounds too good to be true......."

Caravan still for sale if anyone is interested.

Hi Nickie,

I gave you the email of the expensive one!

There are quite a few of different ages on leboncoin here

Take a look & watch out for the scammers!

Agree with Cate there. There are a whole load of scams on the go for rental property in Paris and they all run on the same lines. Vendor or owner out of the country, can't get there in person so send the dosh. I'd give it a wide berth.

If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.

Many thanks Mark I'll email for more info.

BTW have had a response from the scammers basically reiterating that the "caravane" is with a transporteur who needs our co-ordonnees and that it is not possible to view the caravan before its delivery... I won't be replying to this one!

Thanks again to everyone for comments, help and advice

Hi Nickie,

I think it will be OK to give you their email address as they have made it public -

I do not know these people but it is a faily small group.

Good luck!

Hi Mark, that one is a bit pricey. Can you let tell me where you saw the ad for the 560UFE, this sounds interesting. we are still debating whether it is worth buying in the UK as they are significantly cheaper but there are issues as we have a french reg car and cannot legally tow a UK reg caravan. I know you can get a temporary permit from your prefecture but its a bit of a catch 22 as you have to provide proof of ownership before you can apply.

thanks to everyone for the comments. we are going to give this one a wide berth (sorry for the terrible pun) and keep on looking. I did email the "owner" back asking about the location and if we could view the caravan before purchase and surprise, surprise, I've not heard back.

This advert appeared on another ex pat site. I don't know if this is the sort of thing you are looking for or even if it is still available but if you want their number please let me know. The advert is 4 days old. Also it seems to be a bit expensive as I have found a 560 UFF of the same year, also French, for 11250 euros. The UK has them at half the price, though, but you will have to register them here.

Excellent Hobby caravan is like new since it has rarely been used since 2008 when purchased new in France. The price when new was 22,500 euros. The model number 560UFE and the caravan length is 6.35 metres and width is 2.50 metres. The caravan has a Truma Motor mover and a winter cover.

Please see photos attached

13.995,00 euros

Nickie , have you looked on Anglo info for your region - mine always has caravans on for sale

or maybe le bon coin


They are also asking for enough personal data to do other 'business' as you, except that the emails will be diverted to them wherever they happen to be....

It's generally what is known as "advance fee fraud".

Before your "caravan" has been delivered, the scammer will ask for money to cover fictitious expenses, such as legal fees, etc.

Rest assured that there is no caravan. The person is thousands of miles away, most probably in French west Africa.

If you want proof of this, copy the header of the email into this tool:

So how do these work? is it a multi phase thing where they ask you for a deposit? do they burgle your house once they have your address? do they report the caravan as stolen after you've paid for it? do they send you a bill for the delivery even after stating many times that this has already been paid for?

It's really disappointing as we identified 5 possible caravans - 1 is a scam, 1 chap didn't know anything about it, and 3 have not bothered to reply at all. We're on the point of giving up and going to a French dealer (expensive) or buying a van and a caravan in the UK and hauling both back to SW France (also expensive) :(

And absolutely seething with spelling and conjugation mistakes (usually an indication...) oops sorry Cate I've just seen you said the same thing!

Almost Identical to the average Nigerian or Mali or wherever scam.

very interested to hear what you find. absolutely too good to be true :(

The search continues...

Hi Cate,

Thanks so much for this, we had decided it was just too good to be true and had heard about similar scams for high value construction items.

We'll keep on looking online but will probably visit some dealers and pay their price.

Absolutely 100 % scam.

Yup, it's a scam. I was looking for a Renault 4 & found a vey cheap one. Aparrently the owner had moved abroad & just wanted to pass on the car to someone else. It would be delivered & if I liked it I would pay the money to the delivery person. It was in very good condition & had just had a new cam belt fitted - good news indeed if you were buying a car, one less worry - except that a Renault 4 does not have a cam belt! An owner would have realised that. The price was also about half the price. I have found similar adverts on Paruvendu so no longer use that site.

As an experiment I will look for a car today & see if the reply matches your caravan format. Will post if it is!

Thanks Brian, this is pretty much how we feel about it. We've got no intention of giving this level of personal information via email and want to try to see the caravan before making any kind of decision / commitment. As we are able to hook it up to our 4X4 we don't need the delivery... Think we will ask for the location of the van and try to make an appointment to view it. If we get obstructed in any way I think that makes it clear its some kind of con.