Beware of Boat Scams
For those looking to buy or sell a boat (new or used), it’s best to do your research before you make an investment or attempt to sell. To make sure all remains on the up and up when selling or buying, here are a few pointers.
Talk to seller on the phone: Simply discussing the details of the boat in an e-mail or online may leave room for the “seller” to be a fraud. Make sure you talk on the phone to ensure you are speaking with a real person. Use a landline number, or one that seems to match the area code of where the boat is listed. If you are forced to talk through e-mail, make sure there isn’t noticeably poor grammar and that the e-mail address is legitimate.
Always view the boat in person: Never purchase a boat without viewing it in person. Avoid looking at overseas boats that you can’t see before you buy. After you view the boat in person, it’s a great idea to get it surveyed before any money exchanges hands.
Be cautious with payment: Never wire money via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service. Don't give out personal financial information or put a deposit on a boat without viewing it in person. Avoid situations where the seller wants you to pay a third party. It’s smart to always handle payment in person.
Stay away from cashier’s check or those offering more than asking price: It’s highly probable that if a buyer offers to pay more than asking price, it’s a scam. It’s easy for criminals to print counterfeit bank checks. Always verify the account with the financial institution. There's not much a bank can do if the check is fraudulent, so cover all your bases by requesting cash or a wire transfer from their bank.
Avoid links within e-mails: Links within e-mails are usually not a good sign. Oftentimes, these scam links will send you to a bank or escrow service, known as “phishing” sites, which then can access your personal and financial information.
Making offer sight-unseen: You usually don’t buy a boat without seeing it, so when someone offers to buy your boat sight-unseen, this can be a cause for concern. Be especially careful of any transactions made from overseas.