When you decide to sell your boat, be it through an ad in a magazine, a newspaper or on the internet, you have to be aware of possible fraud schemes that some individuals are taking advantage of. If you are well informed of how these frauds work you can easily prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself, your money and your boat.
The most common scam is called the Advance Payment Scam. The idea behind it is quite simple. The fraudster is finds your ad and contacts you, saying he or she is willing to buy your boat. The payment usually comes in form of a cheque or a bank transfer. However, and this is very important, the amount of money you see coming into your account is actually bigger than the price you agreed upon. The con-artist then contacts you and tells you a story about how the accountant messed up the payment or makes up any other reason to explain that a mistake has been made, and asks you to pay back the difference. Sometimes they will even request you pay the shipping cost. However, after a couple of weeks the money transfer fails to go through or the bank discovers that the cheque, which came in from the buyer was forged and now you are liable to pay the bank the amount stated in that ch eque. In the worst case scenario, not only have you lost your money, but you have already shipped your boat to the con-artist. At this point, unfortunately, there is little you can do, because that person is probably long gone and you will have to spend even more money to try and find him.
So how do you protect yourself from this kind of fraud? Always request the most detailed information from the potential buyer: full name, e-mail, address, and telephone. Make sure that the information you have is legitimate, call that person, or better yet, meet face to face so you know exactly who is buying your boat. The fraudsters will most likely deny your request for a meeting, claiming they are overseas, or they can even state that they live in another country. Be extra cautious if that happens. Under any circumstances, never send any money back to the so-called buyer. Another good idea to help protect yourself from any kind of fraud when looking to sell your boat is using the services of an escrow agent.
The last tip is the simplest one - follow your instincts, if you feel that something is not right about the buyer or the deal is too good to be true, maybe you should not sell your boat to this person.