Fraud remains a persistent problem in this modern world we live in. In fact, it seems like we have become even more susceptible to this kind of dilemma now that we are extremely reliant on the Internet and social media.
Still, it is worth noting that scams are prevalent even at the time when buy-and-sell ads were posted in newspapers.
Taking that into consideration, you need to arm yourself with knowledge on how to spot potential scams and the variations of common fraudulent activities that developed over the years.
6 Signs of A Potential Scam
Whether you are buying or selling a boat, it is imperative you ensure that you aren’t dealing with anyone questionable. Although giving everyone the benefit of the doubt may come naturally, it goes without saying that being a little cynical when it comes to trading a boat.
Below are some of the most common signs of a potential scam:
1. Requests for sensitive information. Some information you should be wary about giving out is your bank information and the PIN to your account.
2. Emails with links to banks or escrow service. This modus operandi often referred to as “phishing,” is used to gather personal information which is then used either to extract funds from your account or use your identity for illegal transactions.
3. Provides offer before even seeing the boat. Some people think that they are lucky if they are given higher prices or offers to buy their vessels even before it is inspected, but the truth is that this reek of a potential fraud. Remember: “If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not.”
4. Seeks payment to be sent first. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to pay for something you haven’t received yet. The safest way to deal is to sign a contract first before sending any money.
5. Negotiates through a middleman. Although they aren’t inherently bad, you should be wary of people who use middlemen.
6. Sends out a fake check beforehand. When someone sends you a check, make sure to have it verified by the bank as soon as it arrives. This is because some scammers send fake checks in the hopes that you would deliver the vessel before verifying if the payment is real.
4 Common Boat Buying and Selling Scam Variations
Scammers are becoming cleverer in creating variations of common buy-and-sell fraud, so it is also a good idea to know each variant.
1. Fake Money Order or Cashier’s Check
Counterfeiting money orders or checks are illegal. However, some scammers take this to a whole new level of fraud by giving the boat seller a fake money order or cashier’s check. After that, he is told that the buyer is “forced” to send him an amount higher than the asking price.
The buyer then asks the seller to send the “excess” amount to someone else, which turns out to be a fake account. To make matters worse, the check or money order turns out to be counterfeit and the seller is left with less money than before he decided to sell his boat.
2. The PayPal Variation
Like the fake check or money order, this modus operandi tricks the seller into sending the supposed “excess” money to a shipper that doesn’t even exist. The only difference is that the buyer “pays” via PayPal and sends out a fake confirmation email with a higher amount than what was initially agreed upon.
3. Email Fraud
Most scams that take place in this digital age involves electronic mail. Fortunately, there are hints in the email itself that can serve as a red flag for users, including lack of reference for the product being sold, bad grammar, random-looking email address, demands use of escrow service, seeks to “pay” a different amount than the asking price, and lack of concern of the boat’s title and other pertinent documents.
4. Escrow Scam
The escrow scam involves the use of a fake escrow service. At first, it may sound a bit legit since they use company names like GoogleMoney.com or Escrowprotect.com, but it eventually turns out to be the epicenter of the fraudulent activity. After sending the money for this service, the seller won’t hear anything more, be it about his money or his boat.