Selling your boat and avoiding fraud

When selling a boat, or any other item, via internet or magazine classifieds, there are some common scams that you need to be aware of to make sure you’re not a victim.

The Advance Fee Fraud

Also known as the “Overpayment Scam” or “Advance Payment Scam”.

Here’s how it works… The con artist will tell you that they want to purchase your vessel. He will send a cashier’s cheque, banker’s draft or business cheque for considerably more than the agreed sale price of the boat, and will ask you to send the difference back. He will give some excuse for sending too much money, such as blaming the error on his accountant.

Before sending back the difference, you would wait for the cheque to clear. However, the cheques are usually forged or stolen so your bank will honour the cheque, and it may be weeks, sometimes months before the forgery or theft is discovered. You will then be liable for paying back the value of the cheque. And, if the boat has already been shipped to the con-artist, you lose out twice.

Unfortunately, if you have been a victim of this type of fraud, there is little you can do to get your money or your boat back. Usually, the con-man will be outside of your country, where your police have no jurisdiction.

Nigeria seems to be the biggest source of this type of deception, and this, along with other types of fraud are thought to be one of the largest industries in Nigeria. You should be especially cautious when a message originates from Nigeria. Countries that generate a large amount of this type of fraud are listed below. However, you should be aware that the scammer may not tell the truth about their location and may even disguise the IP address of their computer so that the originating country cannot be determined.

High risk scam countries: Nigeria, Russia, Israel, Côte D’Ivoire and many other African countries.

To help prevent you from being conned, here are a few pointers:

When the buyer sends too much money, you can be sure they are attempting a fraudulent transaction. Do not proceed with the sale.

2) Do not send any money back to the buyer.

3) Remember the cheque you receive may not be legitimate.

Make sure you have as much contact information from them as possible. An address is vital. A PO Box address is not good enough. Be very suspicious of anyone who is unwilling or delays in providing this information. Contact them by telephone, e-mail, post and await a reply to make sure the contact details are real.

5) Be extra cautious if the buyer is outside of your own country.

6) If the person mentions the purchase of the wrong item e.g. a car instead of a boat, it is probably a scam; many of these scammers have many scams on the go in different market areas and often get them mixed up.

7) Think about enlisting the services of an escrow agent.

8) Trust your gut instincts; if something seems too good to be true, or just seems wrong, it probably is.