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Camper van catastrophe

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:17 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

Internet security is a huge worry, sometimes you can never be sure exactly who you’re talking to.

But Colin McFadden from Swansea thought all was well as he searched eBay for a Camper van. That was until the £4,500 vehicle never arrived…

It all started last September when Colin was in Brighton. He told X-Ray, “We were walking along, looking at [Camper vans] in all different colours shapes and sizes and they all looked so pretty. I thought how about buying one of them?”

And his wife said she agreed, “I thought yes now the children are grown up it's our time, our adventure.”

Back at home on their computer they found what they thought was a genuine advert for a 1979 Devon Bay window Camper. Colin told us it was perfect, “One of us got excited... because it was like sky blue and Maria always fancied a sky blue one with a white top.”

The seller sent them some photographs and it seemed like a bargain. But considering Camper vans like this can cost £10,000 to £15,000 was it too good to be true? Colin said, “That was it I was hooked I couldn't resist her. [The seller] said I’m up in Scotland but for a quick sale you can have it for £4,500 and I'll deliver it free of charge.”

Colin told us he was anxious to get his hands on the van and offered to head north and pick it up. But the seller had his excuses ready, “We wanted to physically see it really so I said why don't we come up on the train and pick it up and I could drive it back? Oh no, no, no, work commitments it's not suitable he replied. Delivery is best option for me.”

And so they agreed to hand over the money, over the internet through what Colin thought was a secure eBay Payment Protection method.

As Colin explained to X-Ray, “[The seller] sent me a page that I thought came from eBay. It said payment protection page. All the rules and regulations.

“He'd given me the account number to transfer the money into and I thought right that's it I'll transfer the money over to who I thought was eBay and that was it.”

But then delivery day arrived.

Colin said, “Every time I heard what I thought was a lorry or something I'd come round the side quick! Oh here comes the camper!”

Slowly as the day went on, Maria was starting to worry, “I started questioning Colin - how many hours did it take to get down from Scotland to South Wales”.

And then the realisation hit them. 

Colin told us, “By that time my young son was here. He said what time's it supposed to be here dad? I said it's supposed to be between two and four. He said I reckon you've been scammed.

“He said - you pay through PayPal anyway dad.  Of course the penny dropped. Of course you do you don't pay through eBay, you pay through PayPal.

“I felt sick. I thought this is ridiculous - I've been conned.”

Tony Neate from Get Safe Online

We spoke to Get Safe Online – an initiative that provides advice on using the internet safely. Their Managing Director, Tony Neate told us, “This scam works because they’re advertising on a well known website.

“They're putting the price of the item they’re selling slightly cheaper and then they know how the system works. They talk about - we'll make sure how you pay us is a guaranteed method - you won't have to lose your money unless you get the van.

“These are the type of things that start to ring bells with people that this is genuine and I’m being looked after. What you’ve got to make sure is you do your own checking.”

X-Ray contacted Colin’s bank, Lloyds TSB but they won't provide a refund as he had authorised the payment.

We've also spoken to eBay - they say they warn people to guard against fraudsters impersonating companies. Their advice is that a reputable seller will only ask you to pay via one of eBay's accepted payment methods - PayPal, Credit card, and paying when you accept the goods.

And Colin’s advice? “The moral of the story is don't pay for it until it's actually on the drive. Cash on delivery!"

Colin and Maria McFadden

Colin and Maria have now managed to buy themselves another camper van to do up!


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