When my husband Bill and I moved back to Northern California a couple of years ago it was with great excitement we relocated to the California Delta which is an area comprised of about 70 islands surrounded by over 1100 miles of waterway. When we lived here before we had a pontoon boat, but when we moved to Arizona, there was no reason to keep this boat in the desert so we sold it.
Now we are back and the dream was to be able to purchase a small pontoon boat that the two of us could use to putter around the rivers that surround the islands.
A few weeks ago Bill found an ad on Craigslist for a 2006, 20’ pontoon boat in excellent condition with only 156 hours on the motor. The pictures were great! It had been kept in a garage all of these years and the cost was $2,500.00. We got in touch with the owner and when she sent me an email (not a phone call); I found out that the boat was not in California but in Montana. Her story was devastating and I actually cried and felt sick after hearing it. She had recently lost her husband and her 19 year old son in an auto accident. A drunk driver hit her husband’s car and they both died immediately. She could not bear to have the boat around her any longer because it brought back so many memories.
She then told me that the boat was being held by EBay Motors and could be shipped to us in two days. We would not pay until we had the opportunity to inspect the boat. By the way she wrote, I assumed she was a woman in her 50’s who was devastated by her loss.
We told her yes, we did want the boat and agreed to the terms. We than received the official 2 page notification from EBay Motors with instructions. However, on this paperwork we were to send them the money via MoneyGram and it would be refunded if we did not accept the condition of the boat. When I pulled that out of my printer I had an immediate gut reaction that something was not right. I took the paperwork to my Assistant/Daughter Barbara. She is a huge customer on EBay and knew just who to call. It WAS a scam! My gut, as always, was right on!!
I decided to string the person (woman??) along to see if there was anything I could do to bring these people down. Suddenly the tone of the emails totally changed from this sweet grieving widow to all business with step by step instructions as to what we should do next. I reached out to the FTC and spoke with someone there about this fraud and was told that there was nothing we could do to these people because on the internet it was impossible to locate them.
However, they did tell me to send the information to: firstname.lastname@example.org and to never open any more emails, never take any phone calls and to have nothing to do with these people ever again. I followed the instructions and Craigslist removed the posting by morning the next day and I never heard another word from “Evelyn” again.
It did not cost us anything but I must admit the disappointment of not being able to have the boat was hard to take. But, we will continue to work hard, try to save money and hope to find a small used boat in good shape one of these days but it will not be an online purchase.