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Beware of boat buying scams

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It has been said that in late spring a man’s fancy not only turns to love, but to buying a new car or boat. And the latter may bring out the worst when not buying from a reputable boat dealer.

According to Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS), boat buyers are getting ripped off by boat buying scams as reported to its Consumer Protection Bureau.

BoatUS offers the following way to greatly improve your chance of a smooth sale or purchase of a boat – and when to walk away.

* Getting a cashier’s check or money order for more than the asking price: Anytime a buyer offers to pay more for the asking price of the boat you’re selling, run away. Today, it’s easy for criminals to print counterfeit bank checks, and by the time your bank figures out the loss, the bad guys are far away and you’ll be liable for the lost funds. Always contact the financial institution on which the check was drawn to verify the account, but don’t dial the phone number printed on the check, if possible. The amount of the bank check should also match in numerals and words, and the account number should not be shiny in appearance. Official checks are generally perforated on at least one side.

* A twist on the same for the electronic age: Recently, says BoatUS, PayPal has become a target for scammers. A phony buyer again asks to send substantially more than the asking price for the boat. Later, you get a fake confirmation email from PayPal with your user ID for more than the agreed purchase price – with instructions from the buyer advising you to send the extra money to the shipper. The scam can seem even more legit – if you refuse, you may receive additional fake email notices from PayPal threatening to close your account if you don’t transfer the extra money as per your “agreement.”

* An escrow service scam: A bogus seller advertises a boat on a website at a low, but not scam-worthy price. When the scammer finds a buyer, they will tell them to use a legitimate sounding yet fictitious escrow service, like GoggleMoney.com. But once the funds are transferred, you’ll never hear from the seller again. It’s wise to use an escrow service for a long-distance purchase, but be very cautious with escrow services you’re not familiar with, and go with established providers such as eBay’s Escrow.com.

* Email red flags that mean you may be taken for a ride: Examples such as poor grammer, spelling and language use; no phone number for the buyer/seller; generic references (ex. “merchandise”) to the boat being sold; changing names and locations in emails; a buyer who shows no interest in haggling over price or seeing the boat firsthand; a buyer or seller who has no interest in discussing titling or verifying the boat’s Hull Identification Number (HIN).
To help prospective boat buyers/sellers, go to www.BoatUS.com/consumer.

GET FREE BAIT

When I was a kid and my uncle would take me fishing, there were few, if any, bait shops in Lehigh County. Because of that he would first stop at a local stream and throw out a cast net for minnows. After a few casts we had a bunch of minnows for fishing at a local pond. And years later, when my son was old enough to fish, we would go down to Cedar Creek around Union Terrace School in Allentown and lift up rocks to capture crayfish for bass fishing. While both methods seem like work as opposed to going to a bait shop or bait machine, it’s fun, especially for a kid – who can catch bait like Huck Finn did.

The folks at Bass Pro’s Outdoor World feel the same way. Larry Whiteley, Bass Pro fishing pro, said to use small bait catcher rigs which are tiny #8 gold hooks adorned with pieces of bright plastic. The rigs are rigged in tandem, about six or eight in line and weighted at each end with a sinker.

He also suggests vertical jigging the rig at places such as tail races, below dams or other areas where baitfish congregate. Throw nets, as described, can catch plenty of bait fish which is a common practice in the Keys.

Whiteley says you can also set out crayfish traps baited with chicken necks or catch a bunch as we did by hand.
He goes on to say, “Place a hollowed-out loaf of bread under a tarp and the next morning you should have some crickets for fishing.”

Added to that, he recommends taking a hand net out to a field and catch a bunch of grasshoppers, which make great trout and bass baits. And in the least, go dig a can of worms.

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