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Beware The Ebay Buyer Protection Narrowboat Scam

A few days ago, I receceived an email from subscriber Sylvia Archer-Longden. She and her husband have been trawling the internet looking for narrowboats. They found one advertised on the Boats & Outboards web site that they liked the look of. The advert was a free listing on Boats & outboards, but the photo’s of the boat were on photobucket.com. In fact, they still are. It looked a fantastic deal, but was it real?

They contacted the “seller” to confirm the price. They wanted to confirm the price because, quite frankly, they didn’t believe it. After you see the photo’s you won’t either. The narrowboat being offered for sale was three thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds. I’ve written the price in full so that you don’t think I’ve simply put the decimal point in the wrong place. Now have a look at the photo’s but please come back. You need to hear the rest. Narrowboat photo’s

Ebay Buyer Protection Scheme Scam

Ebay Buyer Protection Scheme Scam

What did you think? Not bad for the price is it? I’m not keen on the decour inside but I could live with it for that price. That’s what Sylvia thought too. She emailed the seller asking for more information. Here’s the reply she received…


Its still for sale. Immaculate condition, no damages, nothing to worry about. All necessary documents available. My current location is Scotland due to my work commitments,If this is going to be a quick sale, I will let it go for ?3,850 delivered at my costs. Are you familiar to eBay? I will list the boat on eBay Motors for the ?3,850 buy it now price and I will send you a link to my auction, so you can buy it immediate.

As soon as you will confirm the payment to eBay, I will proceed delivery without any additional costs for you.

In case you are not familiar with them, please read their Buyer Protection and will see that they cover 100% the transaction done through them up to ?50,000. You will receive the boat with all the documents. As you know eBay is the best company of online transactions. If indeed interested in buying it and have the funds, I will list it on eBay, as I have a 100% positive feedback with them.

Please let me know your decision.

Thank you.”

Sylvia was intrigued but still suspicious. She asked the seller for more information. Here’s the reply…

“I have requested personal support and I was approved to use Buyer Protection Program. Here is how the process works through the Buyer Protection Program:

– I make the private listing on eBay for you,
– you go and buy it through their website,
– you have to pay for the item to eBay to secure the funds,
– they confirm me that they received the funds,
– I deliver the boat,
– you receive the boat,
– they send me the money,

Everything is covered by eBay. I will get paid only after you confirm that you received the boat in good order.
Let me know if this is acceptable. Thank you”

Sylvia, fascinated, suspicious (and just a tiny bit excited) asked for clarification of the deal…

“Hello Debra, my husband and I are VERY INTERESTED in perhaps purchasing the boat BUT………… let us get this correct. You want ?3.850 {three thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds } AND you will deliver at that price ?

Could you confirm this please?
I take it she needs fitting with engine, heating and lighting etc? As we have seen no description of her ?
We are serious buyers, with the cash to hand, but of course need to get this right,
I appreciate the way you are dealing with Ebay and will gladly use them should we buy ?”
One last email from seller “Debra”…
“Yes 3,850 pounds including delivery . The engine work very well .

No major work needed never had any problems last serviced at this start of summer. Nothing broken, no hidden issues.
Let me know if you want list it on eBay.”
It was at this stage that Sylvia emailed me as she was understandably still unsure. “What do they have to gain if the transaction is covered by Ebay’s Buyer Protection scheme?” she asked.
I’ll tell you what they have to gain Sylvia. Your money. It’s a scam. “Debra” claimed that the transaction would be covered by the Buyer Prtection scheme. It wouldn’t be. Vehicles are covered by Ebay’s scheme in the USA, but not in the UK. Here’s a list of their exclusions…

Exclusions from eBay Buyer Protection

eBay Buyer Protection doesn’t cover services and certain categories of goods, false, abusive or illegitimate cases, or purchases where you have been or may be compensated by another third party. The following purchases are excluded:

  • items that violate our Prohibited or Restricted Items Policy;

  • intangible goods;

  • custom made items;

  • airline flight tickets;

  • eBay classified style listings;

  • licences;

  • access to digital content,

  • anything that’s equivalent to cash (including retail gift cards); and

  • items listed or that should be listed (under our listing policy) in these categories are also not covered (if an item, which should be listed in one these categories has been incorrectly listed in another category, which is not excluded under this Policy, we will accept the case subject to the other terms in the Policy):

    • Businesses for sale

    • Specialty services

    • Vehicles (including, without limitation, motor vehicles, motorcycles, caravans, aircraft and boats, tractors and ride-on lawnmowers);

    • Gift certificates

    • Residential Property (Real Estate)

There were a number of warning signs common in scams of this type throughout the seller’s communication…

  • She claimed to be out of the country (Scotland) because of work commitments. It’s common for criminals to claim that they can’t be on hand due to work commitments or personal issues
  • The price was ridiculously low. It should have been at least ten times as much
  • “Debra’s” emails were generic. They mentioned “the item” rather than specifics about the boat.
  • The emails were poorly written and grammatically incorrect
  • There were no details about the boat. “Debra” just provided a link to photo’s hosted on Photobucket

Sylvia could have had a nasty introduction to narrowboat ownership. She said in one of her emails to me, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” I agree Sylvia. I hope the next narrowboat you look at is a lot more expensive!


Useful Information
Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.

  • jonnolly Monday,6 February, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I am into the VW camper scene. We get this all the time. They post a pic of a gorgeous bus and wait for greed to take hold. Once it was my mate’s van with pics lifted from a magazine article on it and it had been airbrushed to remove the owner!!!!

    It’s the old ‘If it seems to good to be true….’ scenario.

    Caveat Emptor. Always

  • diannecollins Tuesday,7 February, 2012 at 10:08 am

    i cant believe these people we all work hard for our money and they are there wanting to steal it !!! makes me mad !

  • jonboy Tuesday,7 February, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I remember when the ipod was first released. I got scammed by a young lad who took my money via ebay and delivered nothing. Stupidly for him he had bought other items on Ebay and I just contacted a different seller to gain his home address. He was not so cocksure when he found me sitting in his living room drinking tea with his mum. We were discussing the options of a full refund plus costs or a severe beating, a full refund plus costs. I got my money back and physical violence did not ensue!

  • bikeshed Thursday,9 February, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Just a word of warning for people out there who buy DVDs and BOOKs from Amazon. it seems that there are people out there who are buying up cheap DVDs and BOOKs from the free ads, or from a house clearence. They then offer the goods as brand new and factory sealed. You are charged full price ( in my case £20 for a DVD) and the cheeky so and so send you a 3rd hand badly damaged cover and scratched dvd. This has now happened 3 times to me. But this last time I kicked off big style and got my money plus postage payed up in full.

  • Peter Sunday,25 May, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    scammers have been doing this with cars as well my son nearly fell for it , they used to originate from Nigeria and Pakistan but probably from anywhere now

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