Seller Beware!!!

Paul Fopeano

I just recently listed my latest (For Sale 15' 3" wood and canvas solo canoe)
on our WCHA classifieds. You can imagine my excitement when the first morning after I put it up I get an offer! This person was happy with my asking price, had no questions about the canoe's design and was ready to proceed with the transaction asap! How easy was that?? In about the 3rd exchange of e mails he tells me that he is too busy to come see the boat but he would pay with money orders and send his "cargo handler" to pick up the thing. --- Still not too bad -- maybe -- I'm still high from the thought that someone was wanting my creation! -- Then, this person wants all the information that is in the ad -- including my cell phone # that was not. What would he need that for, I wondered? So, I told him what information I would provide was in the ad and that I wanted to talk to him on the phone.... He stopped.

What was that all about? Was there an attempted scam? I think that my boat is worth what I'm asking but was it worth trying to rip it off? It is so distinctive it would be very easy to spot if it hit the market again. Why would anyone buy and original boat without testing it out? Too weird!

By the way, the canoe is still for sale!


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Nigerian style scam.

This is the typical internet scam. If you do a little research you will find a lot of information out there about it.
Most likely some sort of scam. I think I've had at least one similar inquiry every time I've sold a boat through on-line classified ads. I'm not sure what they're after, but they all seem to share certain rather peculiar characterists. First of all, they don't seem to care much at all about the boat in question. They make no attempt to see it and they don't care much at all about the construction, design, or condition it's in. If you were thinking about spending a couple thousand bucks of a boat, wouldn't you want to have a pretty good idea of what you were buying and what kind of shape it's in?

Secondly, they always have some sort of "agent" that will pick it up for them (probably self-defense so that you don't pound them to a pulp with a paddle when you figure out that they're scam artists). In reality, I doubt you will ever see anyone face to face as they have no real intention to ever pick up or own the boat.

And finally, there is always something fishy about the way they plan to pay you. You will most likely be asked to take some over-sized money order down to your bank, cash it, deduct the price of the canoe and give them the change - or some similarly unusual scenario. Once the bank figures out that the M.O. is fake, they come after you to make it right. The canoe buyer will be long gone with the change and you will be on the hook for the entire value of the money order. There are as many different versions of this sort of scam as there are crooks, but you, the seller, always end up losing out in the end. The "buyer" slithers back under a rock somewhere with whatever profit he made off of you - and it doesn't have to be a lot of money. All he had to do to make it is stick your name on the same e-mails that he sends out every day and mail a couple worthless pieces of paper. Once the seller has complied with the money-generating part of his scam, he's gone and nobody ever comes to pick up the boat. He may have 50 of these offers out at any one time and if one or two sellers take the bait, it more than pays for his efforts.

As a seller, you have every right to demand a face-to-face meeting with the buyer and payment in cash, PayPal or something else that is safer if you feel that there is anything fishy going on. With the current economy, it can be tough to sell recreational items and other fun stuff, but the scammers are still out in full force and trying to take advantage of all the people who are selling off seldom-used items to get some cash out of them. If a particular transaction just doesn't seem to smell right, walk away. You might be losing a sale, but all to often, you're simply taking the target off of your back and telling these folks that they'll have to look elsewhere for an easy mark.
Lots of crooks out there!

I just posted the same ad on Craig's List Maine and there are warnings all over the place about counterfeit money orders and the like. Had the guy not sounded quite so lame I my have gone one more step! That is scary!