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Boat Buying Season Scams

Boat Owners Association of The United States
ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 16, 2014 -- Itís summer boating season and some boat buyers and sellers are getting ripped off, sayís Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). The national boater advocacy, safety and services group outlined the top boat selling scams reported to its Consumer Protection Bureau and offers some ways to greatly improve your chance of a smooth sale or purchase Ė and when to walk away.

Getting a cashierís check or money for more than asking price: Anytime a buyer offers to pay more for the asking price of the boat your are selling Ė run away. Today, itís easy for criminals to print counterfeit bank checks, and by the time your bank figures out the loss, the bad guys are far away, and you will be liable for the lost funds. Always contact the financial institution on which the check was drawn to verify the account, but donít dial the phone number printed on the check, if possible. The amount of the bank check should also match in numerals and words, and the account number should not be shiny in appearance. Official checks are generally perforated on at least one side.

A twist on the same for the electronic age: Recently PayPal has become a target for scammers. A phony buyer again asks to send substantially more than the asking price. Later, you get a fake confirmation email from PayPal with your user ID for more than the agreed purchase price Ė with instructions from the buyer advising you to send the extra money to a shipper. The scam can seem even more legit Ė if you refuse, you may receive additional fake email notices from PayPal threatening to close your account if you donít transfer the extra money as per your "agreement."

An escrow service scam: A bogus seller advertises a boat on a website at a low, but not scam-worthy price. When the scammer finds a buyer, they will tell them to use a legitimate sounding yet fictitious escrow service, like But once the funds are transferred, youíll never hear from the seller again. Itís wise to use an escrow service for a long-distance purchase, but be very cautious with escrow services youíre not familiar with, and go with established providers such as eBayís

Email red flags that mean you may be taken for a ride: Poor grammar, spelling and language use no phone number for the buyer/seller generic references (ex. "merchandise") to the boat being sold changing names and locations in emails a buyer who shows no interest in haggling over price or seeing the boat firsthand a buyer or seller who has no interest in discussing titling or verifying the boatís Hull Identification Number (HIN).

For a free buying and selling guide for boaters, go to