Beware of fraudulent sellers
Beware of fraudulent sellers'When in doubt, do not overtake'
Take care... If you are a buyer...
Beware of aircraft that are priced way too low
Such scam advertisements are hard to detect, as their appearance is in fact quite normal.
What's going on? Someone picks a popular, much wanted aircraft from the register, including genuine airplane and proprietory data, and advertises the airplane for sale at a very low price. The real owner doesn't know about this. Of course, since this offer is irresistible, there will be a lot of enquiries from prospect buyers. If you do enquire, you will most probably be asked to pay a deposit, say $5000, in order to have the seller "secure this extraordinary airplane for you". After having paid, you will never hear from the seller again...
These advertisements may look frightfully genuine, to the point that even the seller's email address looks right. However, the email address will be a faked free webmail account, like hotmail, yahoo or gmail. If the real owner's name is John Doe, the scammer may have created an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care when being asked to pay a deposit
Generally, before paying any deposit at all without ever having met the seller in person, it may be a good idea to ask for a copy of the seller's passport together with a copy of the aircraft's Certificate of Registration. Thus, the seller should prove that he is the actual owner of that airplane. If the seller's name is not on the certificate, ask why. In case of an N-registered aircraft outside the USA, contact the US Trust company and ask them if they know the seller.
Beware when ordering expensive avionics or GPS systems
You wouldn't be the first victim who ordered a nice GNS430, but received a box with a brick in it. In the past, such scammers appeared to operate from Asian countries like Indonesia, but they may pop up anywhere.
When ordering expensive avionics from an unknown, individual seller, it pays to resort to a bona fide escrow service, preferably not the one that is proposed by the seller, as the seller may be involved in its organisation.
Also, before you order, try to learn more about the seller. Ask for references. As always: when in doubt, don't proceed.
Take care... If you are a seller...
Such an enquiry typical reads like:
"Hi, if the aircraft is still available, kindly get back to me at earliest convenience with your lowest price, so we can arrange a pre-purchase inspection."
"Hey, How are you doing? I am interested in the item that you have for sale and decided to mail you. Kindly give me your price as well as the shipping cost."
However, these may quite possibly also be real enquiries so never reply with a negative e-mail!
Fraudulent enquiries often have in common:
- Their content is rather generic and not aimed at your particular advertisement;
- The buyer is not overly interested in the technical state of the aircraft;
- The buyer very soon agrees with the price;
- The buyer sends someone else to inspect and pick up the aircraft;
- The entire deal is to be accomplished quickly.
What happens when you proceed, is this:
You will be given a very nice, signed cheque, then you shake hands and watch your airplane take off. However, the company (quite often Western Union) that processes your cheque, will be notorious for needing a week or longer to verify whether the buyer actually possesses the amount of money that is written on the cheque. As soon as it turns out that this is not the case, your airplane and its buyer will already have disappeared to a remote part of the world...
Fake escrow service
Escrow services work like intermediate entities: they receive the money from the buyer, they let you know that the money is there, the buyer takes hold of your aircraft, and finally the escrow service pays you the money. A nice and acceptable solution.
Except: in the case where the buyer controls a fake escrow service. Your aircraft will be gone and you probably won't even receive the buyer's deposit on the plane...
Expensive objects like aircraft are ideal for criminals to get rid of undeclared money. They buy your plane, soaking you in undeclared money in the process, then they sell the plane afterwards, receiving clean money in return. So, if money doesn't seem to be much of an object to the buyer, take care...
We hope that this piece of advice may be helpful to you when using FlightPlanet.com to sell or find your next aircraft!