The Police warn boat vendors of a money laundering scam

Hampshire Constabulary Marine Unit are warning the boating public of a money laundering scheme that appears to be operating throughout the UK concerning the sale and purchase of boats.

In recent weeks the Marine Unit have been contacted by a number of companies who advertise the sale of boats on behalf of vendors, either in magazine or internet circulations. These advertisements have the price of the boat for sale, and are accompanied by the vendor’s phone number. The methods used by the conmen vary slightly, but the example below is typical.

The vendor is contacted by potential buyers who offer the full asking price for the vessel. Unsuspecting vendors are obviously accepting these offers. However the fraudsters are sending cheques for a sum in excess of the asking price asking for the balance to be returned to them. The conman gives various reasons as to why he is sending a cheque for an amount in excess of the asking price and generally relies on the vendor knowing that all is not quite above board, but is willing to ‘bend the rules’ slightly to secure the full asking price for their boat (in some cases above the asking price).

The fraudsters send cheques, which are invariably for considerably more than the item being offered for sale and often appear to be ‘Company Cheques’ frequently for non-UK banks. These cheques are forgeries. The fraudster will then pester the recipient to forward the balance by telegraphic transfer system as soon as they show as cleared funds. There appears to be a problem with the bank clearing system as frequently cheques show to have cleared after 3 days and then on day 4 or 5 the bank will contact the recipient with the bad news that the cheque is worthless. Our victim is then out of pocket to the amount of the balance and has not sold his boat. Many such victims of this scam are reluctant to report the fraud as they are aware they were willingly participating in money laundering operation.

Scams such as this have been used for a number of years, but it appears has only recently spread to the boating community.

The chances are that if someone is offering you more than you are asking then it is highly likely to be a ‘con’.

For further details: Contact PC John Grady on 023 8023 6753

PC 1981 John Gledhill Marine Intelligence, Hampshire Constabulary Marine Unit, Police Station, Gosport, Hants, PO12 1ES. 07771844567, 023 9289 1769