inspections were scheduled to take place,
the surveyor and mechanic arrived at the
agreed-upon place in Eddo’s Harbor in
the California Delta. “We hung out for an
hour,” said the surveyor. “No boat.” By this
time, the buyer had transferred the entire
$22,000 to AOL Money & Finance. He
said it was not until later that he realized
the receiving account wasn’t with AOL
Money & Finance, but a bank in Georgia.
He says the bank account was in the name
of a company called US Export LLC and,
by the next day, the account was empty.
The buyer’s bank told him they couldn’t
recover the funds. The Georgia Secretary of
State’s Corporations Division has no active
records for the company.
A One-Two Punch
On the heels of the New York report
came a second one involving a boat pur-
ported to be located in Tennessee. Recalls
the surveyor, “I was contacted by a fellow
in Ontario to do a pre-purchase survey on
a 2006 Pro-Line 24 Super Sport that was
supposed to be at the seller’s home here
in the Chattanooga area. The seller said he
was in Seattle and, after some discussion,
said he’d fly back to show me the boat. The
evening before the survey, neither my cli-
ent nor I can contact ‘Mr. Seller.’ I found a
local phone number for the address where
the boat was supposed to be and the man
who answered said there was no boat for
sale there. My client and I agreed there was
something fishy.” The surveyor said his
client had already wire-transferred $22,000
to an escrow company recommended by
Placing deposit money or the full
purchase amount in escrow is clearly the
smart thing to do when making a major
purchase. But, the experiences of the buyers in New York and Ontario demonstrate
that all escrow accounts are not created
equal. Doing business with a known company is step one. Your bank may be able to
help with an escrow account. The BoatU.S.
Settlement Service is another option specifically geared to transactions involving
recreational vessels. The fee for the full
settlement process is $600.
The BoatU.S. Settlement Service verifies the seller’s ownership information,
holds the deposit check, and helps arrange
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