Camper Bought On Craiglist Was Stolen

For many Americans and Canadians buying items advertized on Craiglist and other classified sites has become a great way to locate deals.

avoid-scamsUnfortunately, those sites are also a hotbed of con artists looking to make a quick buck.

In earlier posts I reported about an auto insurance scam on Kijiji and Craiglist and on an Air Force veteran was scammed when purchasing a motorhome off Craiglist.

An Oklahoma family’s time with their dream camper was recently cut short when they learned the RV they bought online on Craiglist was actually stolen.

They learned it belonged to another family through social media.

It’s not easy for 4-year-old Easton to let go of the camper his dad just brought home, but he’ll soon have to.

“[It is] crushing because we had been looking for a long time,” Bret Thomas told Tulsa, Oklahoma News on 6.

“The boys were all excited you know when we got home. We just played in it.”

For over a year, the family searched online for a good camper in their price range. That’s when Thomas spotted a Craiglist ad for a used Pop-up camper for $500. Thomas jumped on the deal and met with the seller.

scam-alertThe camper didn’t have a title, but Thomas got a handwritten bill of sale.

Thomas says the seller told him he had taken the camper with his wife to Lake Thunderbird all the time and that he was out of work and that he just needed the money. Thomas paid him in cash, and the 1977 Jayco camper was all his.

“This was going to be our little home base,” Thomas told News on 6.

“Most of them you find in this price range, their canvases are just ripped up and shredded.”

It was going to be a great way to spend family weekend trips at Lake Arcadia. Excited, Thomas posted pictures of his new purchase online, but it wasn’t long before friends notified him that his new buy actually belonged to someone else.

“It ended up being a friend of a friend’s trailer that was stolen that morning,” he said.

Even more bizarre, Thomas’ wife went to high school with the owner of the camper and he’s even been to the family’s home to fix their AC unit.

“He was a really nice guy. I remember him from that time, and so we contacted him [and we] were able to easily to deal with him, and he was obviously happy to get his property back,” Thomas said.

The owner was able to identify a broken handle wrapped in electrical tape and Christmas lights stored inside a cabinet. It was a heartbreaking hang-up for the Thomas family, who will once again have to put their camping plans on the back burner.

scam-acronym“Legally, the trailer would be ours I guess, is what they were saying. But I know that he used it for his family and their memories and I couldn’t take something like that from someone,” Thomas said.

A missing camper report was filed with Edmond Police and Thomas filed reports with Yukon Police and Oklahoma City Police where the payment occurred.

Thomas says he is not sure if the seller actually stole the camper or was just in possession of it. He has tried calling the seller and contacting him on Facebook and says he would not press charges if he got his money back.

Worth Pondering…
Where there are sales, there are scam artists.

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Consignment Fraud Involves 2 Generations of RV Dealers

The whole concept of RVing is to have fun and enjoy your leisure time, especially for snowbirds and for weekenders.

Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The whole concept of RVing is to have fun and enjoy your leisure time. Camping at Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But two RV dealers in Tucson, Arizona, have made the experience anything but fun after taking the RVs and the victims’ money, reports KVOA, News 4 Tucson.

RV Coachworks International has been scamming customers out of thousands of dollars. They con customers into agreeing to allow them to cosign on their RV, and the customers never get money when they are sold.

Genie Patton and her husband purchased a camper for their pickup truck. When it didn’t suit their needs, the couple cut a deal with RV Coachworks International on North Sixth Avenue. The dealer would sell the camper for $8,500. That was nearly two years ago.

She told KVOA one day the owner of RV Coachworks International called her to say the camper was sold to a man who took it to Canada.

“As soon as the check cleared and when it got everything. Some mixup in Canada with this or with that,” Patton said.

“I kept getting the runaround so I never got an actual time and date that I was to be paid.”

She showed the News 4 Tucson Investigators the agreement signed in July 2013.

North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The whole concept of RVing is to have fun and enjoy your leisure time. Camping at North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, Patton filed suit in Tucson for her money. That’s when she found out the business was about to cease to exist.

“I let him consign my camper under good faith and now you know, we’re the ones that are having to pay,” Patton said.

Jeffrey Loomer ran into the same situation with the RV consignment. He put up his RV in 2006. He put it up with a now defunct business, Canyon State RV. Records show a Lorenzo Michael Caracciolo, Jr., owned Canyon State RV before it closed.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators also found records showing that a Lorenzo Caracciolo, Sr., owns RV Coachworks, a mere seven blocks away.

Last June, Loomer was told the RV had sold. Like Patton, he also never saw any money.

“I have not received anything and there have been multiple phone calls and personal appearances down there,” Loomer told News 4 Tucson.

In Loomer’s case, he received a seller’s fee agreement from Canyon State RV. And eight years later, a sales proceeds invoice from RV Coachworks. Both were for the same RV.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators probed into the companies’ past and found that both the father and son have been accused in several cases for pulling the same exact same type of scam.

Whiskey Flats RV Park, Hawthorne, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The whole concept of RVing is to have fun and enjoy your leisure time. Camping at Whiskey Flats RV Park, Hawthorne, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In fact, last November, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office brought a case brought against both Lorenzo Caracciolo, Sr., and against the son. A grand jury summoned them on counts of fraud, theft, forgery, and illegally conducting an enterprise.

False documents just like those presented to Loomer and Patton were given to victims in the attorney general’s case. The proceedings mention only Canyon State RV, not RV Coachworks International. But judgments in civil cases hold both companies responsible.

In a letter made available to the News 4 Tucson Investigators by the lawyer of one of the victims, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is trying to reach a plea agreement where Lorenzo Caracciolo, Sr., will plead guilty to fraudulent schemes and the son to theft. Caracciolo senior can face at least three years in prison. His son, one year.

One of the victims in the attorney general’s case against the Caracciolos sued both the father and son and both businesses. She won the case last December.

Whether she is able to collect the $24,000 she is owed is another matter. Both father and son filed for bankruptcy last year.

As for Patton, she has tried to fight the bankruptcy claims against Caracciolo Sr. because of the fraud she says she suffered.

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The whole concept of RVing is to have fun and enjoy your leisure time. Camping at American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I request this bankruptcy be dismissed, she told the court.

Lorenzo Caracciolo, Sr. threatened to call police when the News 4 Tucson Investigators asked him to respond to questions about the indictment and the accusations Loomer and Patton made against him. His lawyer, Clay Hernandez, did not respond to eight phone calls and emails requesting an interview.

Worth Pondering…
Where there are sales, there are scam artists.

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3 Charged in RV Trafficking Ring

In recent posts I’ve reported on a variety of Internet scams involving recreation vehicles sales.

One of the stolen travel trailers recovered by police
One of the stolen travel trailers recovered by police. (Photo Credit: RCMP)

In today’s post a lengthy Edmonton (Alberta) Police Service investigation into a travel trailer theft ring has led to 95 charges against three men, including a notorious Edmonton con man who masterminded one of the largest Internet-based frauds in history.

The three—Kelly Yates, 50, Alyn Waage, 67, and Donald White, 56—are facing 95 charges following the recovery of nearly $1 million worth of stolen high-end travel trailers and recreational equipment involved in a large fraudulent registration scheme.

The charges include trafficking in stolen property, possession of stolen property, and tampering with VIN.

It all began in October 2013 when Edmonton city police began investigating a stolen property file that lead to executing a search warrant at a home on the city’s south side. There, police recovered a stolen Ford F-350 truck, a custom Weld Viper 2 jet boat, a Gateway boat trailer, and other stolen equipment totaling $198,300.

Information gathered from the search sparked the auto theft unit to begin a complex investigation with the RCMP, Saskatoon police, and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which uncovered a suspected fraudulent registration scheme involving stolen recreational vehicles that extended across Western Canada.

One of the stolen travel trailers recovered by police
One of the stolen travel trailers recovered by police. (Photo Credit: RCMP)

From that investigation, $664,830 worth of stolen property was recovered, including 11 travel trailers, three enclosed trailers, two fifth wheels, one utility trailer, two boat trailers, and one jet boat, ranging in value from $2,500 to $59,000. So far 18 of the 19 trailers have been recovered.

The thefts occurred from a wide range of locations like residential driveways, parking lots, and storage lots in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, predominantly outside of Edmonton.

In most cases, the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) were removed and replaced with a fraudulent number, then registered through Service Alberta using counterfeit bills of sale before they were sold through online classified ads.

Det. Alfred Normand with the auto theft unit said about 12 of the 18 stolen trailers had changed hands, half of which went to innocent third party purchasers. The other half went to associates within the group.

The vehicles were sold under false vehicle identification numbers and counterfeit bills of sale through online services such as Kijiji. Vehicles were bought at “close to market value,” police Det. Alfred Normand said. Over the course of the investigation, police say they recovered equipment, including travel trailers, fifth-wheels and utility trailers, that total $863,130 in value.

Eighteen of the trailers were returned to their owners, and one is still missing, he said.

Buyers of the fraudulent equipment have lost their money. Those people can seek restitution through the criminal or civil court system.

Other stolen vehicles may still be on the market.

Waage, a former real estate agent, fled Canada in 1998 after he was charged with 44 counts of mortgage fraud totaling $1.2 million in relation to the sale of 22 condominiums at two Edmonton developments, and another small fraud in Hinton (Alberta).

Authorities have said Waage used the money to finance his next con, a complex pyramid scheme that raked in more than $60 million US from as many as 15,000 investors from 57 countries. At the time, it was believed to be one of the largest frauds yet conducted over the Internet.

One of the stolen travel trailers recovered by police
One of the stolen travel trailers recovered by police. (Photo Credit: RCMP)

Waage created and ran the Tri-West Investment Club between 1999 and 2001, initially operating from a cliffside mansion in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He admitted to having used the money from the scheme to buy Mexican real estate, fleets of vehicles, a helicopter, and a yacht.

The scheme involved a high-tech version of the classic Ponzi scheme, in which early investors are paid off with money from later investors, not from return on investments. Waage was arrested in Puerto Vallarta in 2001 and was sentenced in 2005 in California to 10 years in prison after he admitted he planned and conducted the scheme.

Other Canadians and Americans were also indicted for their roles, including Waage’s son. Brenda Martin, a Canadian woman employed by Waage at his estate in Mexico, gained international attention after she was held by Mexican authorities for two years for knowingly accepting money from the fraud run by her former boss.

Normand said to always ask for identification from the seller of a vehicle to avoid being defrauded and to check the VIN — usually on a label inside driver or passenger door — to make sure it hasn’t been scratched out and that it matches the public VIN.

Worth Pondering…
Where there are sales, there are scam artists.

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RV Dealer Sentenced in RV Lease-Ownership Scam

Another day and another RV scam to report.

scamIn a recent post, I reported on an Internet scam that targets would-be RV buyers.

In today’s post the owner/operator of an RV dealership was sentenced to a jail term for defraud in an elaborate RV lease-ownership scam.

A Court of Queen’s Bench Justice sentenced Arnold Donszelmann to seven years in prison for defrauding 36 Albertans in a scam dating back a number of years.

Donszelmann, who used to own and operate Leisure RV in Millet, Alberta, sold dozens of RVs to people as part of an elaborate scheme, according to an Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) news release.

Many customers entered his so-called management program where he promised to lease the owners’ RVs out for them and pay the owners part of the proceeds as an investment of sorts.

The problem was, Donszelmann did not have clear ownership of the RVs meaning he did not have the right to sell them. However, many purchasers got the payments they expected so the scam carried on for years without them realizing they were actually victims, not owners.

Eventually the payments were late or infrequent. Many of the owners got tired of hearing excuses as to why they could not see or access their RVs. Suspicions grew, AMVIC was alerted and launched an investigation and canceled Donszelmann’s business license in 2007.

scam-acronym“AMVIC shut him down, we put an end to this scam,” John Bachinski, executive director of Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council said.

AMVIC also charged Donszelmann with fraud in 2012.

On April 26th of this year, an 11-person jury convicted Donszelmann of 31 counts of fraud over $5,000 under Section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code.

“Our investigators worked long and hard to bring Donszelmann to justice,” Bachinski said.

In addition to seven years in prison, Donszelmann has been ordered to pay more than $2.3 million in restitution to the victims.

“He has hurt a lot people who have lost significant amounts of money. I hope the victims will be able to recoup at least some of their financial losses,” Bachinski said.

“AMVIC, as the Regulator for the RV industry, works to protect Albertans. I can assure you we will continue to put a stop to any other scammer who tries to set-up shop here.”

Worth Pondering…
Where there are sales, there are scam artists.

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Internet Scam Targets RV Buyers

The old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it is,” unfortunately, is apparently ringing true again in the case of the scam website

Scam-AlertPolice say the scam artists are thought to be operating out of Nigeria, and even though some would-be RV buyers lost thousands of dollars in deposit money on non-existent RVs, there is little that can be done because the alleged perpetrators are outside of the reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies, according to investigators with the Newton County (Missouri) Police Department.

Officers from the southwest Missouri county became involved because directed hopeful RV buyers to the site of a former RV park south of Joplin, Missouri, according to Detective Fred Engberg. The campground went out of business years ago although some “old FEMA trailers” are rented to occupants on the property, Engberg told Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).

Longtime RVDA member dealer Wheelen RV Center in Joplin has been fielding questions from consumers and notified RVDA about the scam. Marty Wheelen said people from as far away as Georgia traveled to Joplin to pick-up the motorhome they intended to buy from the operators of the website, only to find the motorhome was not there..

Similar off-shore scams have directed prospective RV buyers to other locations around the country to pick-up RVs that did not exist, Engberg added.

avoid-scamsRVDA called the phone number listed on the website but there was no answer. However, a few minutes later, the call was returned and the person who called back said it would be possible to view the motorhome RVDA inquired about either in Joplin or at another location specified by the potential buyer.

“Please call (before traveling to Joplin) because other people are interested in that unit and it might be sold before you come out,” the caller added.

Although there’s virtually no chance the people who lost deposit money will be able to recover, Engberg, the Missouri police officer, said putting the word out about the internet scam is a good idea to prevent others from being victimized.

Worth Pondering…
Where there are sales, there are scam artists.

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Protect Yourself From PayPal Email Scams

In earlier posts I reported about an auto insurance scam on Kijiji and Craiglist and on an Air Force veteran was scammed when purchasing a motorhome off Craiglist. rv

PayPal is considered one of the most trusted internet sites for buying or selling items but some con artists are finding a new way to exploit it.

Since John Yonce rarely used his 2011 29-foot, one-bedroom Coachman Catalina trailer any more, he decided to advertise it for sale.

“I got a few bites but nobody is pulling the cork on it. They are just nibbling at it,” Yonce told WRDW-TV News 12.

Then he received what he thought was his first real offer. The buyer claimed to be stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California and agreed to his asking price of $20,000 and then some.

“He wanted to pay me what I asked for it plus $950 shipping,” says Yonce.

“And $380 in PayPal transaction fees.scam

He said that he would send the money by PayPal using his credit card,” says Yonce.

But first, “he wanted me to wire him $950 to somebody in San Diego through Western Union.”

That’s when Yonce’s instincts warned him that something was very wrong and that he was about to get scammed. A phone call to PayPal confirmed that it was a scam.

The email looked like it was from PayPal but a closer inspection revealed some warning signs:

  • PayPal will always address you in an email by using your first and last name, not your email address
  • PayPal emails do not contain poor grammar or mention the FBI to gain your confidence that a transaction is safe

Be skeptical if someone wants to make an immediate purchase at the asking price with no questions asked. Also any requests for overnight shipping and be wary of PayPal notices sent to your email.

PayPal offers the following advice on how to handle “phishing” attempts to steal your personal information.

Avoid email scams and spot fake emails claiming to be from PayPal.

Fake PayPal emails – phishing

You may receive a fake email that claims to be from PayPal. Sending fake emails is called “phishing” because the sender is “fishing” for your personal information.

The email may ask you to: Visit a fake or “spoof” website and enter personal information. Call a fake Customer Service number. Click an attachment that installs malicious software on your computer.

How to protect yourself from fake emails avoid-scams

When you aren’t sure if you can trust an email claiming to be from PayPal, here are two guidelines that can help you to spot the real from the fake: PayPal emails will always use your first and last name, or your business’s name PayPal emails will never ask for your personal or account information such as credit or debit card numbers, bank account details, driver’s license number, email addresses, or passwords

If you suspect an email is fake, don’t open it. Don’t reply to the email, click any links, or download any attachments.

How do I report PayPal fraud or a PayPal Scam?

Forward any suspicious emails to Then, delete the suspect email.

Worth Pondering…

Travel safely…and stay away from road-gaiters and orange barrels.

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Beware of Buying insurance off Kijiji or Craigslist

In an earlier post I reported that an Air Force veteran was scammed when purchasing a motorhome off Craiglist.

fraudAviva Canada, one of the country’s leading providers of home, auto, recreational vehicle, group, and business insurance, is warning Canadians about the risks of insurance deals that seem too good to be true.

In cooperation with the Toronto Police Service, Aviva Canada released details of a recent insurance scam that has left individuals without auto insurance coverage and cost them hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars, according to an Aviva Canada news release.

“With the anonymity and ease of classified websites, we have seen a sharp increase in the amount of fake motor vehicle liability insurance cards, also known as pink slips, being sold online,” said James Russell, Chief Underwriting Officer for Aviva Canada.

“Consumers need to be aware that some individuals have made a business out of defrauding others and use this type of scam as a regular source of income.”

Serafattin (George) Solak has been charged with:

  • One count of Fraud over $5,000
  • 13 counts of Fraud under $5,000
  • Eight counts of Uttering a Forged Document
  • Four counts of Misleading Receipts
  • Eight provincial charges of Sell, Give, Distribute Insurance Card

On September 10, 2013, Toronto Police Service officers arrested Solak outside of his Edmonton home.

The arrest was possible after Aviva Canada worked with the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Crown Attorney’s office to uncover sufficient evidence for a Canada-wide warrant. fraudPrevention

He was returned to Toronto on September 11, 2013, and was taken directly to 31 Division. He is currently in custody awaiting a court appearance in a Toronto courtroom. During the arrest, police officers seized fraudulent Aviva Canada motor vehicle insurance liability cards.

“We want to emphasize that the charges against Mr. Solak are just one instance. Other would-be criminals are trying this over and over again,” continued Russell.

“What people are buying from these individuals is not insurance—it’s just a piece of paper that comes with a big risk. Any driver using a fake insurance slip instead of securing valid coverage could potentially be sued for millions of dollars.”

The charges were laid by Toronto Police Service after Aviva Canada provided evidence of fraudulent activity. It is alleged the Solak advertised insurance for sale on various online classified websites including Kijiji and Craigslist. It is also alleged that he met with a number of potential victims in person, accepted cash or checks and provided false motor vehicle liability insurance cards.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has also issued a public warning about Solak and his connection to a fake insurance scam.

What happens to those who are caught with false insurance? Having false insurance means a driver has no insurance at all, which is illegal. If it is discovered that a driver has a false insurance card, they could be charged with a criminal offense, possibly leading to first-time penalties of:

  • A minimum $5,000 fine, up to a maximum of $25,000
  • Vehicle seizure for up to three months, with the owner responsible for all storage costs
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year
  • For a second conviction the minimum fines double, and there is the possibility of being charged with a criminal offense.

What can consumers do to protect themselves?

rvBe mindful that if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Never purchase insurance with cash.

Call the company listed on the policy to ensure it is valid.

Never meet in a public place with someone that claims to be an insurance representative. Insurance brokers or insurers will have branded websites and/or an office; they will not likely ask to make a transaction in a public place.

Remember that even if the motor vehicle liability insurance card looks legitimate, it could still be a fake. Report it. If enough consumers alert authorities of this activity, fraudsters will be easier to capture and convict.

Call the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s TIPS line at 1-877-IBC-TIPS, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-5TIP-NOW, or Crime Stoppers (1-800-222-TIPS).

Worth Pondering…

Travel safely…and stay away from road-gaiters and orange barrels.

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Morgan RV Park Back on the Auction Block

In recent posts I reported on the financial and legal problems encircling Morgan RV Resorts and that the state Supreme Court had assigned a new company to manage two Morgan RV Resorts, Cold Brook Campsites and American Camping Resort, both located in Ganesvoort, New York.

Morgan-Recreation-Destination-logoIn today’s post, I report on a third Morgan RV Resorts property, Flagg’s RV Resort in York, Maine.

As seasonal campers return to this recreational vehicle park, the foreclosure sale of Flagg’s RV Resort is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, June 20, according to an attorney for the mortgage company.

“The foreclosure sale is going forward,” said Alan Mills, of Indianapolis, Indiana, an attorney representing mortgage holder MLCFC 2007-9 ACR Master SPE, a Delaware limited liability company.

Mills said he believed the sale would be held on-site, reported.

The sale originally was scheduled to take place March 22.

The website for Morgan RV Resorts is undergoing maintenance
The website for Morgan RV Resorts is undergoing maintenance

The day before the scheduled foreclosure, Flagg’s RV Resort LLC obtained a 60-day emergency restraining order in York County Superior Court to temporarily stop the sale, according to court records.

Attorneys in the case spoke with a superior court judge via a conference call the week of May 27, according to Mills.

Neither Mills nor Flagg’s attorney David Pierson of Eaton Peabody in Portland said he could comment on what took place during the conference call.

On Wednesday, June 5, long grass could be seen growing in the park, which has lost numerous seasonal campers amid changes there over the past two years.

In York, the day after the scheduled auction in March, workers at the park who said they worked for Morgan were disassembling and moving to an undisclosed location an estimated half-dozen park models.

When the six park models were originally moved in two years ago, an estimated 10 RV campers were forced to move out.

Other campers, fearful of the change, moved out on their own accord. Where once there had been more than 80 RVs at Flagg’s, now about a dozen remain.

Flagg’s RV Resort has a value of $1.2 million, according to the town’s assessment database.

In 2007, Flagg’s was among seven campgrounds Morgan used as collateral toward a $38 million loan from Countrywide Commercial Real Estate Finance Inc., according to court records.

The Countrywide loan was transferred several times.

The mortgage holder sought to foreclose on all the properties, according to the published notice of the sale.

Morgan Recreation Vacations sought to stop not only the foreclosure on Flagg’s RV Resort, but also on two other Maine properties in Rockport, Megunticook RV Resort LLC and Camden Hills RV Resort LLC, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Morgan Resorts ideal private resortsMorgan was unsuccessful in its request for an emergency restraining order in the Rockport cases. On March 21, the day the Knox County Superior Court denied the requests, the foreclosure sales went forward.

However, the mortgage holder ended up keeping the properties when it did not receive what it considered to be suitable prices, according to the Bangor paper.

Worth Pondering…

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

—Peter Drucker

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Motorhome purchased on Craigslist explodes

In recent posts I reported that four small dogs died and an RV was destroyed in a fire caused by a propane space heater, space heaters destroyed pets and RVs in two separate fires, and six other RV fires resulted in two deaths.

buyer_bewareAir Force veteran Thomas Graley was driving a newly purchased motorhome through Phoenix when flames started shooting through the floor.

“I was coming down the road and the engine just caught on fire,” Graley told
“All of the sudden flames just started coming out of the pedals,” added Graley’s wife, Candy.

The Graleys have been down on their luck. Air Force veteran Thomas Graley lost his job when the cellphone company he worked for merged with another company. They bought the motorhome so they would have a place to live as well as a vehicle.

“They foreclosed on my house and repoed my car so we bought this so I would have someplace to live,” he said with tears in his eyes.

Today, the Air Force veteran was able to sift through the rubble of the vehicle to salvage a few personal belongings, but nearly everything he owned was destroyed in the fire, reports.

The Graleys found the motorhome listed on Craigslist.

“It seemed like a good vehicle for the price,” Thomas Graley said.

The couple excitedly handed over their life savings of $1,000 to the Craigslist seller to purchase the motorhome so they could drive to Ohio to visit their daughter, who is due to give birth in February.

fraudPrevention“He said that it ran good and that it was road worthy and would make it to Ohio,” Candy Graley said.

Instead, the motorhome made it just a few miles before catching fire.

The Graleys have attempted to contact the seller numerous times with no response. 3TV went to the address listed for the Craigslist seller, but no one answered the door.

Unfortunately, the Graleys probably do not have much legal recourse, according to Phoenix attorney Brent Kleinman.

“Most likely he won’t be able to get any of his money back,” Kleinman said.

Kleinman said because the transaction occurred between two private parties, the seller did not have a duty to find defects in the motorhome.

“You’re buying that vehicle as is,” Kleinman said.

“The only recourse you have is if they try to intentionally deceive you.”

Thomas Graley said because the motorhome was brand new, it was not insured yet. So he believes he will be out his home, his vehicle, and the money he spent to purchase the motorhome.

“It was a thousand dollars,” he said.

“To other people it may seem like a small amount, but to us it was everything we had.”

Buyer Beware

The following core rules for using Craigslist are courtesy

Beware of the many scams that users may try. The Craigslist domain is known for counterfeit money orders, bad checks, stolen merchandise, and damaged goods.

Used is a keyword for stolen on Craigslist. Many people have located items stolen from them on the site.

rvThere are criminals who use Craigslist. Since criminals use Craigslist always meet in safe places to mitigate the chances of being victimized.

Follow your instincts when using Craigslist. Sometimes things just, “feel right” and sometimes things feel, “all wrong”. When using the Craigslist domain there are often warning signs that make a user, ‘feel’ like something is wrong before they discover they have been scammed.

If you do not feel totally comfortable with a transaction, wait one day. If the buyer or seller cannot wait it’s probably a bad deal.

Do not accept personal checks or money orders from Craigslist users. Craigslist has alerts about the check fraud that happens in the domain. Do not accept personal checks because of the risk of fraud. Many users make fake checks and money orders or forge blank ones to commit their scams.

Use similar caution when buying or selling on eBay.

Worth Pondering…

Travel safely…and stay away from road-gaiters and orange barrels.

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: January 6

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. First RV Caravan into Mexico Reports No Problems

Let's Go RVing to the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The wagonmaster for the first RV caravan into Mexico this winter said there were no problems during the 25-day trip, according to a Caravanas de Mexico RV Tours news release.

“Everything went very well in our Colonial Mexico Caravane Soleil which began on November 12 and ended on Decemver 8,” said Serge Loriaux, director general of Caravanes Soleil. “We traveled more than 2,400 kilometers of roads surprisingly beautiful all along our route.”

The first caravan visited Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo, Santuario de Atotonilco, Queretaro, Tequisquiapan, Bernal, Patzcuaro, Santa Clara del Cobre, Tzintzuntzan, Uruapan, Isla Janitzio, Morelia, Villa Corona, Guadalajara, Manzanillo, Barra de Navidad, Melaque and ended up in Puerto Vallarta.

2. 16 Whooping Cranes Released in Louisiana

State wildlife officials have released 16 juvenile whooping cranes into the wild, the Associated Press reports.

The birds were delivered to the state on December 1 and were released last week in the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Gueydan (GAY’ dawn), according to a statement from the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department.

The cranes had been flown to the site in Vermilion Parish from a U.S. Geological Survey wildlife research center in Laurel, Maryland.

To read an earlier report on the arrival of the cranes in Louisiana, click here.

3. Nebraska Online RV Scam Revealed

Let's Go RVing to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Online ads for expensive recreational vehicles and campers at bargain prices in Nebraska appear suspicious, according to a report by WOWT, Omaha.

A website posted photos and provided an address in Grand Island, Nebraska. But a Google map search and Grand Island police indicate there is only a vacant lot at the address listed on the website.

A California woman believed there was a dealership and that her $20,000 down payment would lead to purchase of a motorhome. “On the website there were pictures of RVs with a sign in the background so absolutely I thought there was a big lot there,” she said.

Nebraska State Patrol Auto Fraud investigator Gene True said he couldn’t find any state license for Grand Island Truck and RV center. He said three buyers have filed reports that campers or motorhomes they purchased had not been delivered. True said one man drove to Grand Island from Oregon only to discover the dealership was not at the address on the website.

True said the victims have reported losses totaling almost $60,000, adding, “I’ve never heard of anybody getting their money back.”

4. California State Park Managers Want New Director

California state park managers said they have lost confidence in their director and urged Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint a replacement.

The 125-member California State Parks Peace Officer Management Association sent a letter to the governor’s office expressing disapproval of Ruth Coleman, who has been serving as state parks director for nearly a decade, the Associated Press reports.

Scott Elliott, president of the association, said there is frustration over how Coleman has handled budget cuts. A survey of the association’s members found that 93 percent have no confidence in their leader and want a new director, he said.

“Director Coleman is an honorable person, but she has been largely absent in making sense of the new economic realities,” the letter said. “We understand that there is some discussion within the administration regarding the director’s appointment process. Consequently, we wanted you to know our position.”

5. Montana State Park Reservations Online

Let's Go RVing to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Montana State Parks announced that the public can book campsite reservations for 2012 online at or by phone at 1-855-922-6768 for the summer season. The summer reservation season runs from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. The reservation window allows campers to plan their camping visit up to nine months in advance.

Montana State Parks reservation campsites include Bannack, Beavertail Hill, Big Arm, Black Sandy, Brush Lake, Cooney, Finley Point, Hell Creek, Lake Mary Ronan, Lewis and Clark Caverns, Logan, Makoshika, Missouri Headwaters, Placid Lake, Salmon Lake, Thompson Falls, Tongue River, Wayfarers, West Shore, and Whitefish Lake.

Basic campsite costs are $15 per night for residents and $23 per night for non-residents during the peak spring/summer season. The fee to reserve a campsite online or by phone is $10.

Each park holds back approximately 25 percent of its campsites outside of the reservation program, for first-come, first-served camping visits.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

Home Too

—On the front of a motorhome

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