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Boat Selling Scams to Avoid

Nothing ruins a boat-selling experience like falling victim to fraud. Learn how to recognize the important signs and protect yourself from scams by reading up on these red flags!


Selling a boat can be tricky. With the rise of fraud and deceit, it's all too easy to fall victim to false buyers seeking an opportunity for their own interests. As one boater discovered recently while trying to sell his beloved vessel, he encountered no less than five fraudulent offers over email! Each offer sounded legitimate at first but ultimately left him empty-handed as scammers sought only personal gain on those memorable occasions. Boat owners beware: even with your guard up you may find yourself hoodwinked when taking that next big step toward finding your new great love upon the sea... Red Flags Flying Red flag No. 1: Obvious poor punctuation and grammar. These scammers crank out a million and one of their "inquiries" every day and many of them have a poor grasp of the English language.

Red flag No. 2: Everything the alleged buyer asked about was thoroughly detailed in the listing — the fact that I'd owned the boat for 14 years (and obviously wasn't the original owner as the boat was more than 20 years old), and the condition of the boat.

Red flag No. 3: Enlisting a third party to pick up the boat without the buyer ever having inspected it, much less having a survey done.

Red flag No. 4: The offer to pay by cashier's check and pick up the boat after it had been cashed. This seems like a reasonable show of good faith, but scammers have become very good at printing fake checks so realistic that banks initially accept them. It isn't until days or even weeks later that the scam becomes apparent, and then the bank can pull those funds right back out of your account. Check with your bank to confirm its policy regarding final acceptance of funds. Warning Signs In my own experience, several notable red flags popped right up from the start, but there are some other warning signs, in addition to the ones already mentioned, that should have boat sellers on watch. When you're selling a boat, you should immediately become concerned when any of these indications of fraud become apparent: -No concern over documentation or the title of the vessel -Demands to use a specific escrow or shipping business of their own choice -No haggling over the boat's price -An offer to buy a boat sight-unseen -An offer to have a mover or other third party pick up the boat -Payment via check or cashier's check made out for more than the selling price -An unwillingness to provide basic proof of identity such as a photo of their driver's license -Showing interest in a boat, yet appearing not to have read the listing -The use of multiple phone numbers (and/or multiple email addresses) from the same individual

A Buffet Of Bogus Buyers Fraudulent check scams have been on the rise as criminals capitalize on unsuspecting victims' trust in a cashier's or official bank check. Technology has made it possible for scammers to create convincing counterfeit checks quickly and easily, often taking many different forms such as personal or business checks, money orders, even electronic transfers. It is an ever-evolving challenge that requires staying informed of best practices - legal advisors can be consulted if there are any doubts about authenticity while working with a licensed yacht broker may offer additional protection against fraudsters. When a fake check is deposited, who pays the price? Believe it or not, you may. The FDIC has stated that if an investigation reveals the validity of such a transaction after several days--or even weeks later--you could be liable for covering its cost! Fraudulent cashier's check scams are unfortunately a prevalent reality, often resulting in unsuspecting sellers losing both the item and money. Telly Lehman of the National Insurance Crime Bureau outlines one example: A buyer sends an inflated payment for potentially something like a boat; sometimes these discrepancies go unnoticed until after transfer when it's too late - the seller is left without their product and money gone. Be aware that this type of scam can occur with any kind of transaction involving cashier's checks! Buyers beware! According to Lehman, there has been an uptick in cases of fraudsters posing as sellers and using fake escrow accounts. In this type of scam, a potential buyer is asked by the supposed seller - who they think they can trust- to deposit money into what appears to be a secure account from afar. Unfortunately for those taken advantage of, once funds are transferred into these phony accounts, buyers lose out on their cash with no way or recourse. An escrow account can offer significant protection when making large purchases, such as real estate. It is an arrangement between the buyer and seller that requires a third-party attorney or broker to handle funds involved in the transaction - essentially acting as a middleman while safeguarding everyone's interests. Funds placed into this regulated type of bank account remain under strict control until all stipulations are met and verified by both parties to ensure safe, secure transactions. Checking The Check FTC reports that from 2015 to 2020, complaints of fake checks increased about 65%. So how do you check up on a check and avoid becoming a chump? Verify the routing number to make sure it has nine digits and matches the bank the check is drawn on.Verify the bank address and make sure it matches the bank's real address.Verify the bank phone number printed on the check and call it to confirm the check is valid only after verifying the institution's phone number via another source. Don't call the number on a check without verifying it first, as sometimes scammers will use a fake number and have someone ready to answer the call.Check the website of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency for reports of fraud cases, and make sure the issuing bank of your check doesn't match the name of any recently implicated institutions. Buyer And Seller, Beware When it comes to buying or selling a boat, there are numerous scams that you need to be aware of. From people illegally profiteering by passing off stolen vessels as their own, asking buyers for additional payments meant for fraudulent 'shippers', and even providing false documentation - these complex schemes can quickly take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. In today's culture, the colorful phrase "buyer beware" needs a fitting companion: "seller beware." It is grimly ironic that those who seek to take advantage of us financially are also preying upon one of our most profound relationships – the bond we share with our boats.

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