The RCMP and Insurance Companies are telling us that commercial equipment theft is back in vogue, it’s another ugly side of the current market. The internet isn’t the only place stolen equipment is bought and sold, but it’s becoming one of the largest places. Buyers can be crooks and Sellers can be crooks. This article is a series of tips for “BUYERS” based on our experience in the equipment finance business (we will discuss equip Selling tips in the next post).
Too Good to be True Price. Although smart crooks do not typically sell items too low, they will often sell them lower than market to make the sale attractive. If it’s too sweet of a deal there is a reason, be careful.
No Serial Number/VIN Plate. If you are looking at a motor vehicle with no serial number plate don’t buy it. Only the original mfg can replace a serial number plate and they do it all the time, so don’t be afraid to ask for a new mfg VIN plate. Missing plates are more common with older construction equipment, and again the plates can be replaced. Even if you buy a machine without a plate remember that one day you may want to sell that piece and you limit your buyers if there is no identification.
Do a “Debtor Search”. If the unit is stolen and plates are tampered with or exchanged then you will likely see no lien on the asset. Take the extra step of having a registry search the company and personal name of the seller to see if there are legal actions and claims against him or her. A little extra time and money could save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Seller Will Not Provide ID. If you end up with a bad deal then a picture of the seller and their ID will be the only thing the RCMP or your Insurance company can use to track that person down. It also ensures you are dealing with the actual owner – a crook can pose as the owner or say he is authorized to sell that truck on behalf of his employer and it’s all lies. Use your phone to take a pic of the ID.
Seller Will Not Provide Proof of Ownership. It’s lost, or in a file box somewhere, or the accountant has it and she is on holidays, excuses, excuses, excuses… If the seller can’t prove ownership then you may be buying someone else’s equipment.
3rd Party Sale. An alleged ‘agent’ says he or she is the one to deal with and handle the exchange. The actual owner is said to be busy or away or sick or whatever…. If you can’t prove this agent is bona fide then he isn’t .
Seller Demands Pmt in Advance. In itself this isn’t always bad but the best is for there to be a personal exchange of goods for payment. If other things don’t seem right then this is the icing on the cake. Step away from the deal.
Google the Seller Name. Google Everything. There may be public record against the seller or the equipment. We have seen the names of crooks posted online by people who were burned in the past.
The smartest of us can get caught in a bad deal but the more homework you do, the less chance it will happen. A highly uncooperative/argumentative seller or one that says all the right things and promises to get you everything you ask for but never does, are two kinds of people to be very careful of. If you are financing the assets you are buying then your broker or lender should be helping you look for any issues. Stick to your checklist of things to do and your spider senses should help out as well
Happy & Safe Buying!