Please select your home edition
Edition
Marina Exchange 728x90 1

Boat buyers and sellers: Don't get scammed

by Scott Croft 30 Sep 06:30 PDT
Don't get scammed when buying or selling a boat. © Scott Croft

The boating season is drawing to a close, but the cold weather buying season will heat up soon. On snowy nights, potential boat buyers will hunch over computers and cellphones looking at boats for sale, dreaming of sugarplums and their first boat, while current owners with two-footitis seek a larger boat and look to sell.

Nearly all boat buying and selling scams involve emails and they often contain clues to alert you. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers these common email warning signs to help prevent you from being scammed.

Warning signs for boat buyers:

  1. The boat is priced well under value. Despite lots of pictures and a good description (likely swiped from a real ad), the boat doesn't exist. If a boat you're seriously interested in is an out-of-state vessel, send a local accredited marine surveyor or someone you trust to verify there really is a boat and that the seller has the actual title and registration. Bottom line: If it seems too good to be true, it likely is.
  2. Cobbled-together email addresses. Scammers constantly change their email addresses to avoid detection, and they may have to get ones with fairly normal-looking names but lots of numbers.
  3. No phone contact. Scammers will go to great lengths not to talk to you and give reasons ranging from being out of the country to being in the military.

  4. Demands to use a specific business (escrow or shipper) and won't accept an alternate. If you chose to use an escrow service to settle the transaction, suggest your own after visiting the BBB site and verifying it's a legitimate one.
  5. The buyer wishes to pay a different amount from the selling price. If any mention is made of paying you anything more than the agreed price (and then typically asking for you to refund the overage or send the money to a third party), walk away.
  6. Showing no concern over title/documents. If there's no interest in discussing titling the vessel or in verifying the registration information or hull-identification number, the person has no real interest in the transaction.
Warning signs for boat sellers:
  1. No reference to what is being sold. Scammers create a generic email to send to thousands of people, so they tend to use general language that could apply to anything such as "item," "merchandise," or "what you are selling."
  2. Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language use. Internet scams usually originate from outside the country. A couple of errors shouldn't worry you because no one is perfect, but a dozen is a red flag.
  3. Changing names and locations in emails. It can be difficult to keep all the details straight when scammers are working multiple scams. If the person doesn't remember who or where he is supposed to be, or exactly what he's selling, you're being scammed.
  4. No interest in seeing the boat or haggling over the price. Whether buying or selling, scammers are amazingly unconcerned about the price of the boat. Who wouldn't negotiate? And if buying, they'll often say they accept the boat "as-is," won't mention a survey or inspection, and won't hold you responsible for its condition. Anyone willing to buy a boat sight unseen after a few emails should be regarded with suspicion — and if they're also not concerned about price, it's a good bet you're being scammed.
For more information on buying or selling a boat, visit BoatUS.com/Buying-And-Selling-Advice.

Related Articles

Last chance for East Coast boaters to be heard
On Shallow Draft Waterway Aids to Navigation Survey West and Gulf coast recreational boaters have already spoken. Now the U.S. Coast Guard is asking East Coast boaters, in a short, 5-minute online survey, to weigh in about the Aids to Navigation (ATON) system on shallow draft waterways Posted on 17 Oct
What's different about fall boating?
Follow these 5 boating safety tips to ensure a great day on the water Other than the colors of trees and cooler temperatures, what's different about boating in the fall? A lot, according to the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, especially when it comes your safety aboard. Posted on 9 Oct
Gulf Boaters prepare for Hurricane Delta
BoatUS offers free hurricane planning information, videos, worksheet Just three weeks ago, many boaters were caught unprepared when Hurricane Sally shifted eastward and came ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Posted on 8 Oct
Alameda County Boaters: expired marine flares
Collection event helps address disposal challenge Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is urging Alameda County residents who own boats as well as those who keep their boats in the county to take advantage of a Marine Flare Collection Event to be held Sunday, Oct. 18. Posted on 2 Oct
BoatUS team responds after Hurricane Sally
Most boat damage due to lack of preparation GEICO | BoatUS Marine Insurance Catastrophe Team is finding that the Category 2 hurricane's sudden shift to the east just prior to the storm's September 16 landfall caught many boaters unprepared. Posted on 1 Oct
The best boat winterizing checklist
And everything else you ever wanted to know about putting away a recreational boat for the season Boaters in much of the U.S. and Canada acknowledge the need to winterize their boat's engines each autumn. But what else can go wrong? Posted on 17 Sep
Labor day boating safety tips
An increase in number of boaters on the water this three-day Labor Day holiday period For the nation's 12 million boat owners, Labor Day weekend is the last blast, with many enjoying the end-of-summer boating ritual with family and friends aboard, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). Posted on 2 Sep
Gulf boaters prepare for Marco and Laura
Tropical Storm Marco, expected to run along the Louisiana coast tomorrow A one-two punch with two tropical storms bearing down on the Gulf Coast this week is getting the attention of recreational boaters, leading some to wisely haul out their vessels to a safe location and make storm preparations. Posted on 25 Aug
Lifecycle Solutions for Fiberglass Boats
Rhode Island Marine Trade Industry Association aims to grow boat recycling across the U.S. With the move to phase 2 of the Rhode Island Fiberglass Vessel Recycling (RIFVR) Pilot Program to address the disposal issue of recreational boats, project managers have released “Facing the Legacy: Lifecycle Solutions for Fiberglass Boats.” Posted on 12 Aug
Insurance guide from BoatUS
The most basic things new owners should know about buying a policy More first-time boat buyers are getting on the water this season than in summers past. Along with the boat, many new owners also find themselves shopping for boat insurance for the first time Posted on 6 Aug
Marina Exchange FOOTER 1Highfield Boats - Power - FOOTERMaritimo 2019 Footer