Brokers & Clients: How to identify scams with ABYA


ABYA Yacht Brokers - Help identify scams when boat buying or selling a vessel

What form do these scams take?

Over the last two years, an increased number of scammed boat owners by so-called boat sellers and backroom-based low-cost yacht brokers when buying or selling a boat have contacted ABYA for help.

Unfortunately, those new to the market are unaware of how to identify scammers when engaging with these people. The frequency of scams can be linked to the limited number of boats available, especially following BREXIT and COVID-19 and its impact on manufacturing new builds.

This lack of stock has caused an increase in overall market price, with some manufacturers reporting 2024 deliveries.

How can I protect myself as a Broker or Buyer?

Scammers use false documentation, i.e. illegal Bills of Sales, Recreational Craft Directive Certificates, and VAT documentation.

We’ve seen buyers lose large deposits following the failure of a survey where the deposit was paid directly to the owner and not into a Pooled Client Account. These ‘sellers’ cannot access Pooled Client Accounts and the protection provided by a legally written Sale & Purchase Agreement. 

Also, owners of privately sold boats have failed to declare outstanding debts which latch to the vessel, e.g. marine mortgages, berthing fees and electric bills.

Reputable Brokers will always undertake specific checks to confirm the identity of all parties involved to protect their buyers and sellers using exclusive financial databases.

What is ABYA doing to help the industry? 

Over the past 18 months, ABYA has worked with scammed buyers, marine lawyers, insurance companies, finance houses, and the Admiralty Marshall to arrest vessels sold inappropriately and recovered thousands in customers’ funds.

ABYA is lobbying closely with; Kelly Tolhurst MP, John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, The Financial Conduct Authority and UK Finance to safeguard industry-recognised Yacht Brokers across the UK and Europe to access Pooled Client Accounts with UK Banks. 

Allowing Brokers to exceed the necessary anti-money laundering controls and checks to protect clients. Industry-Professionals are encouraged to attend ABYA’s Summer Conference on June 8th to hear more on regulatory developments currently impacting Brokers. Available In-person & Online.

What should I do when looking to buy or sell? 

Thinking of selling or buying a boat? We strongly recommend seeking the guidance of a Recognised ABYA broker or enquiring about becoming a Member to demonstrate your credibility and use legally-binding ABYA S&P Agreements.

All ABYA brokers have passed a rigorous application process confirming their high standards and will clearly show their accreditation by using our logo. You can check if you’re dealing with an approved broker by checking our ABYA website.

Buying a boat should be an enjoyable and exciting event. It shouldn’t be a stressful experience. 

Your ABYA broker will guide you and introduce you to qualified marine; surveyors, insurance providers, finance houses, transport and delivery companies, RYA sailing schools, and find a berth for your new purchase. 

You’ll also benefit from ABYA acting as an independent arbitrator if anything goes wrong. 

We hope your next buying or selling experience is relaxed and enjoyable.


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