RED FLAGS TO LOOK WATCH OUT FOR WHEN BUYING OR SELLING A BOAT
Recently, I was looking at buying a second-hand boat to enjoy the warmer weather and long summer evenings. After trawling through adverts online and reaching out to a number of different sellers, I began to get some warning signs that not all of the adverts were legitimate and got an uncomfortable feeling that some were elaborate scams designed to take my money and leave me without a boat. There are more scams about than many of us often think. It didn’t occur to me until I started getting bad vibes and did a little research. I thought it was worth a share with everyone.
Here are some red flags to look out for when in the market for a boat or selling a boat.
AN AREA CODE WHICH DOESN’T MATCH THE ADVERT LOCATION
One of the biggest red flags for me when I was searching for second-hand boats, was when I reached out to the seller with some questions and asked them to call me. More than once, I received a call from a landline, with an area code which didn’t match the location in the advert. This is a huge red-flag, and although sometimes there are legitimate reasons, this is certainly something to watch out for.
SOMEONE OFFERING MORE THAN THE ASKING PRICE
For sellers, receiving an offer of more than the asking price sounds too good to be true and that is usually because it is. Usually, the buyer will have a story about why they need the boat urgently and have no time to view it, they usually offer to pay more than the asking price to secure the purchase then and there. In most cases, they will try and pay for the boat using a counterfeit cheque or use fake confirmation email from PayPal designed to trick you into believing you have received the funds. Whenever you receive a cheque for your boat, it is good practice to call the financial institution behind the cheque to ensure the account’s authenticity. Similarly, login to PayPal through their website to check you have received the funds, not through any links you receive in an email.
A SELLER ASKING YOU TO TRANSFER THE MONEY TO AN ESCROW SERVICE
One scam frequently used by boat sellers, is to post an ad at an attractive price, then ask the buyer to transfer their money to an obscure and usually fake escrow service. Once the money is in there, you don’t hear from the seller again and never get the money back. If you are going to use an escrow service, use a well-known and reliable service and if the seller suggests one to use, do some background research on it to ensure it is legitimate. Genuine escrow services provide an excellent service however scammers always have another trick up their sleeve.
A BUYER USING VAGUE TERMS IN AN EMAIL
Because scammers try to hit high numbers of people in the hope that someone will bite, if you get an email about your boat which refers to it as “the item” or “the merchandise” in a vague way, be cautious. It is likely that this is a generic email sent out by scammers to hundreds of sellers of all different items and is deliberately using vague terms.
Also, many scammers are based in non-English speaking countries. A buyer who seems to have exceptionally poor English is another serious warning sign. You would expect a conscientious buyer to ask a few intelligent questions about the boat and possess at least some nautical knowledge. If they don’t, they might be a fake.
THEY DON’T WANT TO TALK ON THE PHONE
Buyers and sellers who are reluctant to have a phone conversation to answer your questions or arrange a viewing and pick up arrangements may well be scammers. If the person won’t agree to a phone conversation, even if you insist, then move on, they are probably not legit.
Keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Whether you are buying or selling a second-hand boat you don’t want to get stung by these scammers that haunt the market. Stay savvy and don’t let an attractive offer blind you to the warning signs.
The ACCC has a lot of information on different scams and what to watch out for across a wide variety of situations. I’m glad I came across them when I started to get those bad vibes. I’m sure there are a lot more out there.
Is there anything else you can add to this discussion? Do you have any experiences that will help others or you would like to let us all know? Say it through the comments box below.