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Consumers Left in the Wake by Bogus Boat Sellers

Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York is advising consumers to exercise caution when purchasing vehicles—especially boats—through online marketplaces. Problems with such sales have cropped up in offers made via channels such as Craigslist or eBay. Consumers who fall for this scam can lose huge sums of money.

In recent weeks, 12 consumers have reached out to your BBB® about two different companies, both purporting to be based in Manhattan, allegedly offering fraudulent boat sales through online ads.

“We’ve seen these kinds of transactions before,” said CEO Claire Rosenzweig. “The frequency at which we are receiving reports from consumers who have encountered what they thought were legitimate offers only to have them turn into losses, is concerning and therefore we are alerting people to this issue so that they can take steps to protect themselves.”

Last autumn, the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) reported on a category of fraud called Virtual Vehicle Vendor Scams, through which scammers, via online ads, solicit consumers to purchase vehicles that never actually arrive. Frequently, the cybercriminals behind these scams handle consumer skepticism by creating fake escrow companies they claim will handle the transactions, or by making false statements about the purchases being guaranteed by the websites where they advertise.

Another hallmark of this scam is that sellers…

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