Skip to content

Seller Beware!

We built our boat, Morning Star, in our backyard over a 20 year period — she was even featured in Latitude 38 in 1996, the year we launched her. Selling Morning Star is like selling a child, but finances dictate the sale, so we advertised in sailing magazines and on numerous sell-your-own-boat websites. I’d read about people who would try to con us into giving them our banking information or to get us to send them money so we were prepared when the obvious cons started arriving. They’re pretty obvious — poor English, asking questions that are answered in the ad, they’re ready to buy right this minute, and they ask for our bank info so they can supposedly send a cashier’s check. We ignored them all.

But with the recent market crash, we were getting desperate. So when we received an inquiry from a prince in Dubai that didn’t ask for bank information, we got a little excited and pursued his inquiry. There was an initial ‘tell’ in that he wanted to buy after seeing our website, but by this time we were desperate enough to tell ourselves it was because we have such a great website. As long as we had nothing to lose, why not see if this offer was real?

After some emails back and forth, I opened a new checking account not tied to any of my other accounts and put a withdrawal block on the account. If there was an outside chance he was for real, we wouldn’t want to ignore him. The prince then strung us along for two weeks, telling us his finance department had said that the cashier’s check was on the way and to inform him at once when it was received. After two weeks of checking our account almost daily, we were certain that the prince was some kid hacker who was jerking us around for the fun of it.

He then wrote that he’d been out of town on a business trip and that there’d been a problem at his bank. A few days later we got a call from our banker who excitedly told us he had received a cashier’s check from a Paris bank for $250,000. We were asking $158,000. Now we knew for sure it was a con — the next email would ask for the $92,000 difference to be sent to him.

I decided to give this guy a little of his own medicine. I reversed the con and strung him along for close to two weeks. He got frantic because he wanted me to send the money before the check bounced (it takes seven to nine days for a cashier’s check to clear). I finally told him the check bounced and that he wouldn’t get a penny from me until I had a cleared check. That was the end of our communications.

Always remember that if you’re trying to sell your boat without the aid of a broker to run interference and you get an offer that sounds too good be true, it probably is.

Leave a Comment

“I’m glad that wasn’t the windward mark for the day,” says Victor regarding this roller that appeared suddenly off Pt.