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The Hangar 247 team puts significant effort into ensuring that all for sale listings are genuine and not the basis of a scam or fraudulent/malicious intent, that is why every listing is moderated by our team.
Southern Aircraft Sales Ltd / Hangar 247 Director and Co-founder Justin Sollitt has spent 20 years operating internationally as an aircraft broker transacting deals in over 30 countries. Below he shares his experience with the most common ways to stop you avoid falling victim to a scam or fraud:
Aircraft and helicopter trading is among the world's largest targets for scams because fundamentally:
> The transaction can legitimately be in any country.
> The money involved in a single transaction is normally significant.
> Unlike a land or property sale, general aviation sales transactions are normally completely unregulated.
1. Always trust your intuition and apply common sense. If you feel something is just not right, most likely it isn’t.
2. Don’t persist with any deal that is tedious or very difficult to get information out of the seller, or where getting clarification on any information is subject to your sending money. There is a big difference between hard negotiation and a seller being plain evasive or obstructive - that is normally all about you sending money.
3. Don’t persist with any deal where the other party places you under undue pressure to either complete the sale through fear of missing out on the deal of the decade, or where the deal quickly becomes solely about the money or deposit payment, without any importance placed on the aircraft or its compliance.
4. Be wary if you feel the ‘nibbling effect’ creeping in where any deal unilaterally and continually changes in favour of the other party.
5. Don’t transact a deal
> Via Western Union of other such exchange. Use a tier one trading bank, registered escrow service or your lawyer/accountants trust account.
> With anyone who only operates via an untraceable email address or social media account.
6. Always validate the deal directly
> With the registered owner / operator displayed publically on the civil aircraft register. Nearly all civil aircraft registers in the world are online public record.
7. Always personally sight the aircraft or helicopter prior to committing to the purchase and prior to sending any money to the seller, even when dealing through a broker.
This includes getting YOUR engineer to undertake a pre-purchase engineering and compliance inspection. Never just rely on the sellers engineer, especially in another country. (for example; the opinion of the original LAME in the USA can be of little value when you are trying to meet compliance in Australia.)
Remember even a $3000 plane ticket and accomodation costs to inspect an aircraft half a world away will pale into insignificance when compared to the risk of unexpected costs for an aircraft that you have purchased and shipped home, only to discover it was mis-represented or has expensive technical issues to be able to meet compliance in your country.
8. No deal should ever require that the seller requires first paying money to the buyer, prior to the buyer completing the purchase.
9. Be very aware of sales listings that are unreasonably well below the market price with no reasonable explanation.
10. Always use a written sale and purchase agreement confirming the price, all sale conditions and taxes, prior to sending any money.
The price and sale terms of verbal/handshake agreements can have a nasty habit of unilaterally changing (usually in favour of the seller) once an initial deposit is paid and the buyer is committed.
11. Always independently verify that you will receive clear title and there are no registered securities prior to paying any money.
12. When selling only release possession against IRREVOCABLE CLEARED FUNDS from the buyer, as confirmed directly by your bank. This includes cashing bank cheques.
13. Always secure all the maintenance logbooks at the same time as possession of the aircraft as logbooks can become a mechanisim for extortion (withholding vital maintenance records pending payment of ficticious charges or taxes).
Aircraft and helicopters are like boats/yachts or classic cars where purchasing one is normally always a very personal and emotional transaction for the buyer (even for commercial use). As such it will normally always involve great personal attention to the detail with buyer communications normally being enthusiastic, helpful and responsive.
14. The buyer is too quick and easy to complete the purchase
> Without any inspection of the aircraft or negotiation, or
> They are very vague about what aircraft they actually want, or
> Their total focus quickly becomes about the deposit payment or obtaining your banking details.
15. Similarly, walk away from pursuing any seller who is obstructive or unhelpful
> Where information availability is subject to your paying money. In this business any legitimate enquiry will normally see you easily obtain all the necessary details from the other person without you even needing to ask for it.
> This should not be confused with a sellers requirement to see buyer ‘proof of funds’ prior to an expensive inspection or test/ferry flight that is often a very normal request to weed out tyre kickers.
16. The initial buyer enquiry is convoluted palaver or is completely over the top, for example:
“Esteemed Best Greetings, Dear Friend on this glorious day, let me present a proposition of great mutual benefit to us..."
...no bona-fide aviator/buyer anywhere in the world, from any culture, uses this type of language.
17. Beware of heavy/foreign accents on the phone
> That does not naturally match the person's name.
> Be wary when the buyer simply refuses to talk on the phone or skype if this would clearly make things much easier.
18. Communication received from a buyer (or seller) is via an email address baring no relation to the company/broker that they purport to represent. Remember it is very easy these days to impersonate a legitimate company’s domain/email address by just creating a new one with the subtle insertion of a full stop or a hyphen, or using a .org or .co instead of .com
> Always check any email address with bona-fide sources such as the company’s website domain published.
> Or by phoning their office directly.
19. Be aware that scammers phone using a VOIP telephone number starting with +44 so that the call appears to be originating from the UK, but instead are are just routed through the UK and are actually originating from elsewhere, commonly from African or Asian countries.
If you think you are making enquiry with a suspicious advert/seller on Hangar 247 please immediately bring it to our attention firstname.lastname@example.org