Over the past 16 years of doing business, Boat History Report has helped thousands of customers avoid being scammed, but we have never seen a scam quite this elaborate. More than likely, by the time you’re reading this article, the scammers will have changed their name and the original website, MaspMotors.com will have been taken down. However, scammers being scammers means it will be back up soon, just with a different name. We will walk you through what to look for to avoid this type of scam in the future.
*Update, as of March 2021: we have been alerted that Masp Motors has changed their name and website to AutoTraderGarage.com
*Update, as of April 2021: we have been alerted that Auto Trader Garage has changed their name and website to GlantuMotors.com (Glantu Motors).
*Update, as of May 2021: we have been alerted that GlantuMotors has changed their name and website to CapitalDepotCenter.com (Capital Depot Center)
Brief overview of the suspected scam:
- Suspected scammers post boat listings on Craigslist, copied from older legitimate listings that have since sold and been taken down.
- Interested buyer contacts the seller and asks for more details. The response seems legit, answers your questions, and provides you with an inventory number to search for more details on XYZ site.
- You go to XYZ site which would fool even the savviest shopper with its reviews, contact information, recently sold listings, beautifully done website so you feel good about this. And then you realize you were asking about a boat in one state but according to the website, this boat is actually located in a different state.
- You do a quick google search and find tons of “reputable” sites with glowing reviews so once again you feel good.
- You call the number and you get a recording saying they are too busy and to try later. If you chat in, they tell you to make an appt 2-3 weeks away but that they can’t promise someone won’t buy the boat first. However, you can complete a bank transfer and the boat will be shipped within 3-5 days and they have a 7 day money back guarantee. If you want to proceed that way, they require that you register in order to get the bank information.
- Once you register, they send you an email confirming the registration and later an email with an invoice for payment containing instructions for wiring the funds.
Things to look for in a Craigslist ad:
- How many days has the ad been up – in todays climate well priced or below market priced boats have been selling fast so a listing that’s up for a long time could be a red flag.
- Does the model, length, year, and engine all exist- there wasn’t a 263 Walkaround produced in 1993. We recommend NADA Guides to verify possible models and engines.
- How many images are provided? This person is willing to write at length but will only provide 6 images- limiting photos in a listing is common so that they can email you more photos when you ask which makes it seem like they went out and took the photos just for you.
- Can you see a state registration number, vessel name and hailing port, or HIN in the photos? If you can see the registration number or HIN, you can verify it at BoatHistoryReport.com. If you can’t see that information, ask for it.
- Can you see registration numbers on nearby vessels or identifiers to show location information? This boat is listed as being in Baton Rouge but a few other boats in the photos have NY registration numbers
- How is the price? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Things to look for in any email communication:
- Do they immediately tell you to go to another website to see more photos or more information? Do they answer your questions? Send more photos?
- How quick did they respond? In this scenario, typically the response is a couple of weeks. Do they respond quickly to follow up emails?
Things to look for on the sellers website:
This one almost had us. They made an excellent website and used all sorts of tricks to make it hard to research. But, they weren’t quite good enough:
- Google the physical address – does it exist? If so, don’t be afraid to call businesses near it to ask about it. Do they have a “social” presence? This company does not have any social media sites – unheard of for large boat businesses.
- Use a Whois tool (such as who.godaddy.com) to look up when the site was originally purchased and created. In the case of Glantumotors.com, the website was just purchased 2/19/21, even though the copyright says 2013-2021 on the bottom of the website.
- Reverse Google image search the images to see if they come up anywhere else. Depending on how far the site has gone to avoid being discovered, this might be tricky but we can help. In this case, an image on their website is actually from a dealership in Pompano Beach Florida.
- Search their other listings – this site only allows you to look at a couple of “recently sold” listings but requires an inventory number to view any of their “other listings”. We were able to identify two of the boats in their recently sold section as boats sold in January and February of 2020, and NOT by MaspMotors. Fishy, right?
- Check registration numbers in the listings – although they attempted to blur out or remove parts of the numbers (why would they do that?), you can tell they are all Florida boats. Why are they being sold in Montana? You also don’t need to visit Montana to know that they don’t have palm trees.
- Check the “about us” page – a forum user on “TheHullTruth” pointed out a significant typo that has since been corrected:
- Do the photos all appear to be stock images? If you Google their names, do they exist? Such high profile individuals with such outstanding resumes surely have LinkedIn pages- or do they? You may also notice that Darrin is later referred to as Leland and Tracie is referred to Kay (don’t be surprised if by the time you’re reading this, they have already corrected their mistakes):
- Check for reviews on social media websites, LinkedIn, local BBB or other local commerce websites as well as Google. This company actually goes to extreme lengths by imitating major websites such as CarGurus, The Yellow Pages, The Truth About Cars, Rennlist.com, TrustPilot, as well as at least 50+ more. For each, they buy a cheap domain and build out the page to look identical to an actual page from the site they are ripping off. If you click on any of the links on the fake page, it will take you to the real website, and away from the cheap URL their clone was built on. You can see an example of the site Rennlist.com below. Pay close attention to how they copied a page directly from Rennlist.com but changed locations and dates for posters, and details to be specific to the site they are currently using (i.e. MaspMotors.com, Glantumotors.com, etc…). If you don’t pay attention, it would be very easy to mistake the fake site for an actual forum post on Rennlist.com. Always check the URL to be sure you are on the REAL site and not a clone.
- Also, compare the website create date to the date of the reviews – Glantumotors was created 2/2021 but the reviews are from 2018- How would that be possible?
Additional ways to identify suspected internet boat sales fraud:
- Does the deal seem too good to be true (i.e. price is too low or incentives to buying “right now”)? If so, well, you know how the saying goes…
- Be sure to view the boat in person- don’t provide any payment until you have personally viewed the boat. If the boat is in another state, you can hire someone to inspect the vessel, or do a live FaceTime walkthrough of the boat. There is no legitimate reason the seller can’t provide this.
- Looking at the registration number on the boat, does the state that issued it match the state the boat is being sold in? (i.e. FL numbers on the boat but the boat is currently located in NY). You can also view current and past state registration details on the Boat History Report to help you verify if everything the seller says makes sense.
- Ask the seller to provide a copy of the title and their drivers license to verify that the information on the title matches the information on the sellers drivers license. If they won’t provide photos of the title and drivers license or as a secondary verification, ask the seller when they bought the boat. Then use Boat History Report to verify that the title issue date or purchase date matches what the seller claims.
- Verify that every single detail of the money wiring instructions match. In the case of Glantumotors, they provide you with an address for a bank supposedly in Illinois. However, the address is actually for a grocery store, and the routing number is for a bank in San Diego, CA. Tell your bank you’re buying a boat off the internet and ask them to verify all of the details carefully and to contact the receiving bank to verify the details as well to ensure it’s not fraud.
- Take screenshots of EVERYTHING. Every email, every attachment in an email, every webpage you visit from every link you’ve clicked, every chat conversation you have- everything. These websites disappear overnight so if you’re not taking screenshots as you go, you will not have anything to provide authorities to help you recover your funds.
Other names potentially associated with this suspected scam:
- Prestige Automotive Traders (prestigeautomotivetrader.com) -https://www.thehulltruth.com/boating-forum/1144498-prestige-automotive-traders-buy-boat.html
- TDG Depot (tdgdepot.com)
- Komodo Marina (komodomarina.com)
- Autos By Price (autosbyprice.com)
Examples of real sites versus the suspected scammers fake sites used to post fake reviews:
Always pay attention to the URL – as mentioned above, scammers will buy similar URL’s and create replicas of legitimate sites, but post fake reviews to trick potential buyers into thinking their website is not a scam.
Real site: Rennlist.com vs fake site: Rennlistforum.com
Real site: Tidalfish.com vs fake site: tidalforum.net
Real site: Trustpilot.com vs fake site: trustpilotstar.com
If you suspect you might have been a victim of fraud, contact your local law enforcement department immediately. Also contact your bank to see if there is anything they can do. File a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.IC3.gov).
If we can help you or if you have been a victim or have any additional information on suspected crimes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.