Forgive me if this isn't well written. It's quite a story though! It's somethig to watch out for when selling a boat
The latest person looking to buy our boat
emailed me with interest in the boat saying, “I want this boat now. I can either give you gold or cash for it. Can I come up today? I’m in West Virginia.”
I thought to myself… wow… if I were only in a better position right now, I’d take the gold for sure. So grudgingly, I had to ask him for cash instead. He said, “no problem.” He went on to say how he hadn’t sailed in 20 years and just went out a few times. He wanted to know if he could single
hand the 45’ boat and if I could teach him. I figured this wasn’t out of the question, and that he would be able to learn, as he said he was a pilot as well. He wanted to come up on a Saturday to do the transaction, but I asked him to hold off until Monday, so we could go to the bank together. He didn’t like the idea, but accepted.
Between Friday and Monday, I spent about 4 hours on the phone
with the guy, going over details about how fast the boat was, how the systems were set up and how we would work
together to give him a crash course. During that time, he said, “I can just stay on the boat while we do all this.” I said, “That wouldn’t go over too well with my wife.” He then said, “Oh, I didn’t know you lived aboard… sorry!”
By Sunday he had suggested he was bringing a female friend up for the ride. He asked how tall I was and what I weighed when we were talking about bosun’s chairs. He said he was 45 and was bring a female friend up on Monday to see the boat. He also mentioned that if I felt uncomfortable with him on the boat sailing, I could always throw him off.
He called and my wife answered on Monday. She got an instant vibe off of him that she didn’t like. I told her not to worry about it, and we waited for him. He arrived on Monday AM and I showed him the boat. We spent 2 hours going over everything. He suggested he would self survey
it and that he didn’t want to go to the bank. He wanted only to do a wire to our account and let us pay off the loan and send him the title. He also suggested he didn’t want to register or document the boat this year. However, he had the gold with him and showed it to me. He didn't even go over everything in the boat.
Because I wanted cash, he said he had to cash in his gold and put the funds into his Scottrade account. He wanted me to come along for this while my wife stayed with his 60 year old female friend who had diabetes, cancer, a stomach staple and a host of other problems.
We went into Manhattan and did the exchange. Over $100,000 worth of gold. He proceeded to tell me he manages all of his friends money
, he is a wiz at investing, and would manage my money
any time I wanted. He was selling me hard on this. He also said he was left the gold by someone who died and was a friend of his. He talked and talked the whole time, running me ragged doing the errand with him while drilling me on boat questions. He also suggested that they stay the night with us on the boat. I said “Maybe”, but then later said I wouldn't be comfortable until after the transaction is complete.
The wire was supposed to go through that day, but he delayed it, and wanted to stay on the boat. He made it look like the wire was delayed by the gold broker.
The next day (Tuesday), he came back from his hotel
to the boat to finalize the transaction. We felt something was up with the policies he was saying his accounts had, and got a bad feeling, so we called Scotttrade and found out their money wiring
policies. They have a 2PM cutoff. He arranged it so that the gold transfer would not take place until after 2PM on Tuesday, so he could call his broker and tell us that we had to wait another day. Meanwhile, he kept on and on about staying on the boat. All this time, he had been asking us to move off the boat as well. Pressuring us to, actually. I kept resisting. Each time we talked, the woman would take my wife aside and talk with her, while the guy talked with me. I was very nice to him. He took us out to dinner and we took him out to lunch. I gave him books
to study while we waited. I did everything I could, short of having him stay with us on the boat.
So on Wednesday, he said there was some other delay with his broker and the wire. Remember, we didn’t want a wire anyway, we wanted to just swing by the branch of our bank and do the transaction so he could direct them with the title. He wanted no part of that. He insisted on the wire and insisted that we move off the boat “now.” My wife came up with a compromise. He faxes in the order for the wire, and we would rent our moving vehicle and set up our temporary housing. We would also let him stay on the boat that night and sign all of the paperwork, which we did. We hung onto that paperwork though. We rented a $500 moving vehicle and made arrangements to meet a landlord on Thursday AM. We also packed half of our stuff into the moving vehicle. By this time, it was 8PM and dark out. We are not in the best neighborhood, so we decided we’d finish our hour’s worth of packing in the AM and move to our new place. We also wanted to make sure we waited until the wire went through, so we suggested that both parties stay in a hotel
The guy went ballistic. He laid into me hard about me not letting him stay on the boat on this night, the third night of the transaction. So, frustrated, I said, “You can’t move in here until you have bought the boat.”
He went absolutely crazy on the other end of the phone
, got silent for a good 10 seconds, and smashed the phone down, hanging up on me.
It was just then that everything started to click together for my wife and I and we realized what had actually happened.
1) The guy asked me many times about my age, size, height, and suggested I could “throw him overboard” if I felt weird about having him around. He said this no less than 3 times.
2) The woman took my wife away every time we interacted
3) He showed me his gold, showing it off, having me hold a bar
4) He mentioned that he used to swindle retirement
money from old people but got out of that because he was “too nice” to keep doing it
5) He said I should have him manage my money
6) He (and the lady friend) said he handled all of her finances and currently used a 2nd mortgage on her house to invest and make $6K a month
7) He did nothing but brag about himself and what a great guy with money he was and how everyone considered him a friend
8) He claimed to have never sailed, but immediately understood everything about the boat – systems, sails
9) He wanted to know how fast he could get out of the area, asking if he could do 100 miles a day
10) He kept bragging that everyone loves him and he’s the nicest guy in the world, but when he called his sister in law to get a zip code for her address (he was using it because he didn’t have one he said), she was yelling at him. He said, “she hates me”, but then quickly said, no no no!! she really doesn’t hate me when I looked up from the paperwork we were doing with surprise
11) The woman had diabetes and cancer, and a stomach staple but drank half a bottle of wine at dinner, wolfed down sugary muffins quickly before eating with us when she thought we weren't looking, pretended not to be able to eat at lunch and never once took insulin or anything
12) They pulled up in a 1997 Pontiac Grand AM with a lot of bedding in the back
13) He didn’t know any more than I did about investing
14) He didn’t have an address
15) His cell phone
was from LA and he claimed to live in West Virginia
16) He kept trying to get us off the boat any way possible, or stay with us on the boat overnight
17) He went nuts when I said he can’t move onto the boat until he pays for it and the funds settle.
18) He didn’t want anyone else involved in the transaction (banks, surveyors, anyone)
19) He wasn’t going to document, insure, or register the boat.
20) The lady was saying to my wife how smart this guy was, and they were comparing us. When my wife let on that I used to work
at NASA, the lady clammed up and looked worried.
Getting any ideas here? He was a GRIFTER!! He was either trying to get us off the boat so he could take it, or stay with us so he could well… I don’t know what he was going to do with that one. Or… he was stalling that wire and wanting us off the boat and him on so he could just never wire the money. Yes, we played along all week this week to a grifter’s plan. Only thing he didn’t count on is the many years I spent running a small company in Manhattan. I’ve been ripped off more times than I can count, so I finally learned a thing or two from that. I didn’t let him deviate from the normal transaction process, even though he tired me out for 3 days doing it. At the end, when he realized I wasn’t letting him on until he wired the funds, he went nuts since he put so much into this grift. He put in more time and lost
just a little more money than I did. We lost
the rental car and he lost the hotel, although since he had the same clothes on each day, we think he was sleeping in the Grand Am.
So… if you ever go to sell your boat yourself to the public without a broker, watch out for this grift. It’s the old “I’ll move in today, but I’ll pay you tomorrow” scam.
By the way, after this experience, we have given up on selling the boat. We said, “forget it!” and we’re just going to pay this thing off and live on it no matter if we can’t go anywhere fun or not. We’ll be stuck in the North East for many years, but hey… it IS better than land life.