It didn't float his boat: Man claims Craigslist sale went bad

Online transactions can go sour. A 35-year-old boat listed for sale on Craigslist looked like a cherry in the photos, the buyer said, but when it arrived at the purchaser’s door step, it looked more like a lemon.

A North Carolina man claims he bought a Marco Island man’s sales pitch hook, line and sinker.

Albert S. Rhodes, 54, bought the 22-foot, 1975 Aquasport from the boat’s lifelong owner Charles C. Allen, Jr., of Marco Island and Cape Cod, Mass.

Rhodes paid the 77-year-old $10,000 after receiving photos of the boat in near-perfect condition via e-mail. Rhodes claims the “old man” hustled him.

“He was the age my dad would be. You tend to trust folks like that,” said Rhodes.

Allen claimed that Rhodes was advised of the vessel’s condition, police reported.

The buyer and seller jointly hired R&W Transport based in North Carolina for $500 each. Driver Richard Blair hauled the boat 800 miles from Marco to Wilmington, N.C. in early April.

Blair noticed some dings, but didn’t think much of it, he said. He wasn’t asked to inspect it.

Blair was given pictures of the boat via his cell phone, but Blair said he was not able to view them in advance, which he was told was OK.

He met Allen at the dock, picked up the boat and was back on his way to North Carolina.

“When I got there, Scott (Rhodes) noticed quickly that the boat had some serious problems,” Blair said.

The boat’s hull had been smashed so extensively that it was useless, Rhodes said.

“It was such a sloppy, poor repair,” Rhodes said. “It looks like a kid did it.”

Rhodes called Allen right away to say he was sending the boat back, he said.

Allen wouldn’t accept the boat or return any of the money, police reported.

There was a verbal right of refusal, Rhodes said.

“It’s my own stupidity,” he said. “I should have got it in writing.”

In an attempt to learn what might have happened to the boat, Rhodes said he contacted dealers on the island that deal with the Mercury brand engines like the one used on the boat.

Rose Marco River Marina’s service manager told him that he recalled a man in his late 40s who bought parts for a boat he dropped from his father’s boat lift that he needed to repair quickly because his dad had just sold the boat, Rhodes said.

Marina parts manager Randy Simmons confirmed that he someone had dropped a boat and bought parts to fix it. He never got the cash buyer’s name, however, because the parts were in-stock.

Rhodes then contacted the Marco Island police, who advised Rhodes it was a civil issue.

Allen told police that “he doesn’t know what Mr. Rhodes is speaking of,” per the police report.

Attempts by the Daily News to reach Allen were unsuccessful. His Marco Island phone is no longer in-service; the hurricane shutters on his Coronado Court home are closed and a phone number listed for Charles Allen, Jr. in Cotuit Bay of Cape Cod, is also out of service.

“The richie, rich split,” Rhodes said.

The boat can be repaired for $9,000, he reported.

It could cost Rhodes thousands of dollars to get back thousands of dollars.

“I don’t even want to look at it. It’s nauseating,” Rhodes said.

It’s difficult to prove whether this was intentional defrauding or a misunderstanding, said Marco Island crime prevention officer Paul Keys.

Traveling to see the product or hiring someone is well worth it, Keys advise.

Would-be scams can be avoided by dealing locally with people you can meet in person, Craigslist advises.

“Follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on Craigslist,” the site reads.

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 6

erikdean writes:

Sorry..... The buyer is a complete idiot! It is called Due Diligence. I'm sure a 35 year old Aquasport would also need a new transom as well.

bigdog1970 writes:

AHHHHH!!!! Charles Allen Sr. and Jr. two peas in a pod.
Call Jr. to get your A/C fixed!

Sanibel writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

anotherPOV writes:

Not sure if hiring someone to look it over would have helped if the boat was dropped and quickly repaired before shipping.

flatandhappy writes:

There were mistakes made on the buyers part but once SR. found out JR. dropped the boat he should have at least acknowledged it and made some type of good faith payment. What goes around comes around! What a bunch of bums. It doesn't seem like they are hurting that bad where they couldn't have at least attempted to do the right thing. Unreal.

pete8795 writes:

i had one guy that brought a mercedes c500 ( or s ) on ebay and the car looked good ubtil he found out later that the car was in a front end crash... i was looking at the car to buy it but when he told me that story i backed off. craigslist i think is not the place to buy things unless you can see it...lots of people have gotten ripped off.

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