Flim-flam Artists Prey Upon Sellers and Buyers

Drew Frye


You will get crank requests for information. The most dangerous are those offering to buy the boat sight unseen. For example, the person described below has not seen the boat perfect since I had not shown the boat and had only cleaned it of clutter that day. The most obvious protections are to meet face-to-face, and to accept payment by wire transfer or cash only, since cashiers checks can be counterfeit. Use the services of a documentation and title company for larger boats. If a cashiers check is the only practical means, do not release the property until the check has cleared.

July 28, 2017


I am Mr. XXXX YYYY. I am interested in 1997 PDQ Altair l am an expert professional seaman, retired merchant navy Captain, sailing instructor, so let me know in advance of any defects in your boat, because otherwise l will find it myself. l need a complete set of photos, outside, inside, engine and inventory. Fair price according to boat condition. Awaiting your response. My job involves a lot of travel. Kindly get back to me with your personal E-mail address we can communicate more better and secured.

Or like this . . .

August 4, 2017

Good morning, Thanks for your response. A friend came to inspect the Boat, He told me everything is perfect due to my job like i said, I do always on the road for business trips. And i will like you to fill out the document i attached for you so we can make arrangement for the payment and all necessary paper work to sign on. [Be wary of opening attachments-I did not open this one.]

Other scams can include PayPal (they ask for your ID, pay more than asked, and ask for the overage to be sent to a non-existent shipper), escrow scams (they suggest a fake escrow agent), and countless e-mail scams. Keep your eyes open and use the services of a professional title and documentation service of your choosing.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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